Is Tyreek Hill Becoming The NFL’s Next Antonio Brown?

After making the Pro Bowl for the eighth consecutive year, Tyreek Hill is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Nicknamed “The Cheetah” for his incredible speed, Hill had another successful season in 2023 with the Miami Dolphins, leading the league with 119 receptions and 1,799 receiving yards. But sadly in the past six months, Hill’s off-field issues have created far more controversy and headlines than his on-field heroics.

Is Tyreek Hill Becoming The NFL’s Next Antonio Brown?

Reports of violent behavior surrounded Tyreek Hill ever since his college days when he was kicked off the Oklahoma State University football team after pleading guilty to assaulting his pregnant fiance. However, his athletic prowess and charismatic charm always overrode any questions about his character. But as allegations of domestic abuse, threatening behavior, and violent assaults continue to mount, there might very well be cause for concern.

 Is this incredibly talented young man who continues to smash league records, destined to become the NFL’s next Antonio Brown?  Brown was a certain Hall of Fame inductee before his career evaporated under a cloud of criminal assault charges, bizarre behavior, and mental instability. The similarities between these two men are disturbing to consider.

Erratic Behavior Off The Football Field 

In June of 2023, Hill was accused of slapping a man on the back of the head after getting into an argument with him over a fishing charter. Hill made headlines again in November with news of a sudden wedding to Keeta Vaccarro during the Dolphin’s bye week. On January 3, 2024, a fire broke out at Hill’s multi-million dollar mansion and caused extensive damage. Although the fire was later attributed to a young child accidentally setting the blaze, the stress undoubtedly affected Hill. His two-month-old marriage to Vaccaro took a hit when he filed for divorce just weeks later.

Although the couple reconciled within weeks and withdrew the divorce petition, suddenly reports started coming out of 9-1-1 calls alleging domestic assault charges in connection with Vaccaro’s refusal to sign a post-nuptial agreement. Hill was accused of threatening Vaccaro and smashing a lit cigar on her face. Amid all the chaos with Vaccaro, two other women filed paternity charges against Hill in February, demanding child support payments for infants born last year.            

Too Many Similarities

Although no one questions Hill’s athletic accomplishments, his off-field incidents continue to provide an unwanted distraction for his team and coaching staff, particularly when he bolts from practice because his mansion is on fire. As Hill’s off-field behavior becomes increasingly erratic, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the troubled early history of Antonio Brown.     

Just like Tyreek Hill, Antonio Brown was a league-leading wide receiver who baffled defenses around the league with his stellar athleticism. Like Hill, Brown also had his share of collegiate problems. After failing to get accepted to Florida State University, he spent one semester at North Carolina Technical Prep before accepting a scholarship from Florida International University. But in a sign of things to come, Brown was expelled for fighting with a security guard before the season even began. After transferring to Central Michigan University as a walk-on wide receiver, he played for two years before entering the draft in 2010.  

Antonio Brown -A Promising Career In Shambles 

Selected in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown nicknamed, “A.B.” began a promising career with the team, often leading the league in both receptions and receiving yards over the next decade. In 2015, as the result of a brutal hit from Cincinnati Bengals linebacker, Vontaze Burfict, Brown suffered a concussion during a post-season Wild Card game. Over the next few years, he began to exhibit bizarre and increasingly erratic behavior. In 2018, after recklessly throwing furniture from the window of his 14th-story condominium and nearly missing a young child below, Brown was found liable for damages. 

Later that same year, in a monumental accomplishment, Brown reached 10,000 career receiving yards. But after publicly feuding with quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger and skipping practice, Brown was benched in Week 17 by Coach Mike Tomlin and demanded a trade. It was at that point, the Steelers decided to part ways with their superstar receiver and traded him to the Oakland Raiders in March of 2019.

Stories of Brown’s outrageous behavior during training camp began making headlines and he lasted less than six months with the Raiders. Foot injuries attributed to frostbite from improper footwear, absurd grievances about helmets, and public arguments with Coach Mike Mayock all proved too much of a distraction. The team terminated his contract in early September before the season even started.    

But the NFL is famous for overlooking a star player’s inappropriate conduct. Hours after Brown was released by the Raiders, he was signed to a one-year contract with the New England Patriots. Once again, Brown’s scandalous behavior resulted in him being released from the Patriots after only two games due to allegations of sexual abuse and personal misconduct.

A New Beginning

In the fall of 2020, Brown was suspended for the first eight weeks of the season for multiple violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Despite repeatedly announcing his retirement and perhaps in a last-ditch effort to resurrect his career, Brown signed a one-year agreement with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Reunited with Bruce Arians, his former offensive coordinator with the Steelers, and Tampa Bay’s head coach, Brown was given every opportunity to succeed with his new team. Taking a personal interest in Brown’s rehabilitation, Tom Brady agreed to act as his mentor, providing a supportive and stabilizing presence.    

On November 3, 2020, after serving his full eight-game suspension, Brown played his first game for the Bucs. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on to win the Super Bowl that year, it looked as if Brown had finally found a home. Sadly, the good times didn’t last.

The Final Straw

Re-signed for a second year with the Buccaneers, Brown found another way to self-destruct. After serving a multiple-game suspension in the 2022 season for violating the league’s Covid-19 vaccination protocol, Brown had an absolute meltdown during Week 17, where he stripped off his jersey, shoulder pads, and gloves, and pranced around the field. That act proved to be the final straw for Bruce Arians who stated in a televised interview following the game that Brown was no longer a Buccaneer.

A Cautionary Tale

Although Brown’s post-football behavior includes allegations of indecent exposure, domestic violence, and failure to pay child support, it’s not too late for the Cheetah. Unlike Antonio Brown, Hill’s behavioral issues have not yet created conflict with his teammates or his coaching staff. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and Mike McDaniel, his head coach, have nothing but positive words of support about Hill. Hopefully, the events of the past year have caused Hill to reflect and recognize he needs to make changes in how he conducts himself outside of football. He is blessed with enormous talent, wealth, and a huge fan base. As a role model, Hill needs to hold himself accountable and become someone worthy of that honor.  

Main Image: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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