Back from suspension, Ticat Will Hill says he’s learned his lesson

Will Hill says that he won’t change a single thing in his playing style…. between the whistles.

After the whistle? Well, he says he’s learned from what he describes as an uncharacteristic mistake.

The first-year Hamilton Tiger-Cat, who will start at SAM linebacker when the local heroes play at home Thursday night against the Edmonton Eskimos, returned to practice Monday from a one-game suspension for grabbing an official by the jersey during a loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina 10 days ago.  He was also fined for punching a Rider.

Head coach Kent Austin said last week that Hill had indeed made a grave error, but had “owned” it, without excuses, and returns with a clean slate.

“I learned a lesson from this; how to react on the field and off the field too,” Hill told The Spectator Monday. “Just to think about the team, think about the players, and not just about myself.

“I’m not going to change the way I play. I told the commissioner, I told the coach, I told everybody. I even apologized to my teammates for my actions on the field and they said they understand. I told them I don’t need you to understand I need you to overstand, because that’s not me, and that’s not the way I carry myself on the field. I do carry myself with aggression, but not after the whistle and not with the refs.”

In the first two games of the season Hill, who was consistently around the ball, had the best cumulative stats of any Ticat. He made 10 defensive tackles, recorded a sack and three quarterback pressures and, against Toronto, blocked two field goals. He was clearly missed — especially in the second half — during Saturday’s home-opener loss to the B.C. Lions which sentenced the Ticats to an Oh-Oh-and-three start.

Hill’s style is the kind which has always been attractive to a wide vein of Ticat fans, dating back to the blue collar teams of the 1950s. Hard, angry, hitters who caught your attention, and that of the opposition. Indeed, Hill says that part of his modus operandi is to have the receivers he’s covering be aware of him 60 minutes per game.

“I don’t really say too much off the field, but I have a lot of pent-up anger and aggression,” says the soft-spoken 27-year-old from West Orange, NJ. “This sport is the only sport in which you can physically, and legally, mess someone up.

“ I use that to my advantage. So it may feel like ‘he’s wild and uncontrollable’ but, other than that last incident, I’m usually controlled in my temperament. I play aggressively between the whistles and after that, even if somebody gets me, I’m just going to come back the next play.”

Hill says he was angry because he’d been ‘undercut’ (hit in his legs, left vulnerable while jumping) on the Riders’ field goal attempts. And prior to grabbing the official, the official had grasped him. But he’s not using either as an excuse for his reaction which he, like Austin, described as unacceptable.

“I see us as warriors,” he says. “If you look at the CFL logo or the NFL logo it’s a shield. That’s a gladiator’s shield, and they go out there and fight. In that moment, I saw red. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do to touch a ref, and I told coach that, that I messed up.”

One positive of not being allowed to practice last week was that when his five-month old son – Will Hill IV, who’s with him in Hamilton — suffered an allergic food reaction, he was able to be there for him. That was the family matter the team referred to when he wasn’t around the stadium on the first day of practice last week.

When he arrived at Tim Hortons Field the following day he was devastated to find out that CFL policy prevented him from even attending team meetings.

“That was the hardest part,” he said. “It was a little dagger to me because I couldn’t even be there mentally, and pick my teammates’ brains, or have mental practice to stay up on my game.

“I’m just ready to get back. I know we had our opening home game here a couple of days ago, it didn’t go the way we wanted, but this is my opening home game.

“And I will play like it.”

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (116 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

13 Comments on Back from suspension, Ticat Will Hill says he’s learned his lesson

  1. Saynotoapathy // July 17, 2017 at 7:40 pm //

    Well as they say “where this a Will there is a way”.

  2. If he truly can control himself and release his violence at the appropriate times in a legal way… then I look forward to his return…

    Lord knows the Ticats need more players like him… he’s been our best player when on the field…

    • Well Mr. Snake I went to that debacle, and yes, I agree, they could have used an aggressive and spirited player like Hill. I was waiting for emotion, anything, from the Pussycats. Nothing. When I saw Zambiasi flashed on the big screen at the beginning of the game as a special guest I was almost hoping he would slide on his old #31 and show this 2017 TC edition a thing or two. I will guarantee if Big Ben was still playing and saw Johnson and Lulay doing a mocking dance around the football after Johnson’s TD, one or both of those players would have been exiting the field by way of stretcher by the end of the game. Instead the meek and mild Pussycats just let Lulay give it to them over and over again. Case in point is when you let a nobody receiver like Nick Moore catch more yards in one game then he did combined all of last year your D is truly in serious trouble.

  3. Mmmbacon // July 17, 2017 at 9:40 pm //

    he should go play for the stumps. his thuggery would be welcome there. him and messumup could be cell, i mean room mates. seriously though, hopefully he comes back strong and puts this behind him

  4. Very well chosen and spoken words. If he can back them up by appropriate actions both on and off the field then he will do just fine and the defence will take a big step forward. I like the moxy in his game.

  5. Who is this guy? I don’t know him. But I already respect him because he served his penalty without complaint and says he’s learned his lesson. That goes a long way for me. When players appeal a penalty that they so clearly deserve, it tells me they are self-entitled, spoiled brats. Own your mistake and serve your penalty like a decent person. That’s what Will Hill did. Now I know his name and I truly hope he learned his lesson like he says he did. Looking forward to watching a decent person playing a hard-nosed style of football for a long time to come.

    • You don’t know the GOAT… he’s Hamilton’s new fighting chance, any fan would know him..he came from the NFL, he has spent his fair share of time there, thats what the ti-cats need to boost there D, GO TIGERCATS, see yah at the game on Thursday eat em raw

  6. RalphInTheCreek // July 17, 2017 at 10:52 pm //

    Most fans will be pulling for Will to play a tough game and stay out of trouble, a tall order.

  7. Welcome back Will.

  8. Beamreach // July 18, 2017 at 7:57 am //

    Will you be a marked man?
    When he makes a hard hit will the flags fly ? Judging by the past the answer is yes ,un- necessary roughness ….maybe with our new Commissioner will come unbiased Officiating , we’re fortunate to finally have a Commissioner who has played the game and played in the West where they live for CFL Football,that’s a good thing [and yes some of us here also love our CFL Football]

  9. Hors E Power // July 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm //

    Hi will learn and come back a better player and person

    • Wow Horsie, you sure about this? Sounds like you should add him to your list of trouble makers. Oh wait its not a Rider…. you are such a peice of work.

  10. @Philski… I too was at the game and saw maybe 15 minutes of good Hamilton football… actually had a decent running game in first half… but then the same old crap settled in…

    This team is in deep trouble… Collaros just doesn’t have it anymore… offence is predictable and mostly pathetic…

    Why does it seem on second and eight we complete five yard passes and go 2 and out??? All the freakin’ time!!! Can’t these bozos count to ten?

    Then our defence is so porous that even Lulay looked like an MOP… on one of BC’s long passes for TD their WR/SB was covered by MLB Dean… obvious mismatch that QBs love to see..

    Our OC and DC game planning is poorest in CFL… and Austin could learn by just watching and emulating Buono…

    Not sure if this is rock bottom but it sure feels like it…

    I will be at the game Thursday and fully expect Eskimos to slaughter Ticats…

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