Ike Hilliard: “I’m Done”

November 13th, 2009

This one got past Joe’s crack team of naughty interns Bucs news gatherers. But Joe’s not going to let it go.

Chris Harry, the former Bucs beat writer for the Orlando Sentinel (before the newspaper made massive cuts to its Bucs coverage) caught up with Ike Hilliard a few weeks ago.

Chucky’s favorite third-down option is now a receivers coach with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL.

Asked about a comeback, Hilliard said, “I’m done.” Harry explains Hilliard was not pleased with his ouster from One Buc Place following a good 2008 season.

Though never a superstar, Hilliard was always one of the most dependable players on the field. Jon Gruden nicknamed him “Third-and-Ike,” thanks to 111 of his 178 catches as a Buc resulting in first downs.

“Everybody looked up to him,” said Tuskers wideout Paris Warren, a former Buc. “He was a leader.”

Still is. Only the role has changed.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” he said.

Hilliard wasn’t crazy about the circumstances surrounding his exit from the NFL. He was part of the Bucs’ bloody offseason purge of veterans, along with Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Joey Galloway and Cato June.

It took some soul-searching to come to terms with his future.

“You always want to write your own ending to the story … but I’ve hung up the cleats for good,” he said. “If I’m going to be fortunate enough to have an opportunity like this, you can’t have one foot in the door and one out. You have to be all in.”

Joe’s glad Hilliard, just 33 years old, is at peace.

Joe has fond memories of talking international soccer and Bucs football with Hilliard last season. And Joe remembers how, in true Hilliard fashion, he held onto the ball over the middle after literally being knocked unconscious when Seattle’s Leroy Hill drilled him in the chin on the play.

Joe suspects Hilliard might be offered one more crack at the game next year if Chucky returns to the sidelines.

4 Responses to “Ike Hilliard: “I’m Done””

  1. oar Says:

    Wow, I knew it was alot, but wasnt’ sure of numbers. That is an impressive number of first down CATCHES, something we are missing this year! Too bad Clayton didnt learn a thing or two from “ole third and Ike”.

  2. Ian Says:

    I agree that if Chucky comes back, Ike will be one of the first guys he calls.

  3. BigMacAttack Says:

    Ike had better numbers as a Buc than Clayton for the years they were both here. Ike was an awesome, very fan friendly player. Players don’t come over to the fans at the rail in warm ups any more. Ike always made time for a quick chat and a couple signatures. Thanks for all the good memories Ike, another truly classy player that was too good for the idiots now in control. Raheem and his cronies suck.

  4. Big Roy Says:

    I’ve played ball with Ike since grade school back in Patterson La. He has always been a leader. Hard worker and a great person. Good luck to you my friend.