Leroy Hill is focused solely on football
For 581 long, arduous days, Leroy Hill’s life has been a roller coaster of emotion.
The seventh-year Seahawks linebacker hasn’t started since the final game of 2009, and only played a handful of downs on special teams before a season-ending Achilles injury wiped out his 2010 season.
“Not being able to play the game is one of the toughest things in my life,” Hill told the Kevin Calabro Show from the VMAC on Friday. “I know what I cherish and I know what I love, and I’d never do anything to jeopardize that again.”
Hill knows what it feels like to let an opportunity slip away.
Before signing a six-year, $38 million contract with the Seahawks in 2009, Hill was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession and subsequently suspended for the season opener.
The following offseason, Hill was charged with fourth-degree assault/domestic violence stemming from an incident at his Issaquah home. That final episode with the law was the last straw for new head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, who restructured Hill’s deal to void the final four years of his contract.
“It was a big wake-up call,” Hill said of his problems off the field. “It’s been a whirlwind, but all that’s behind me now.”
After the NFL lockout ended last month, not many would have foreseen Hill’s return to Seattle as a free agent. But his familiarity with the organization gave Hill all the comfort he needed to re-sign with the only professional team he’s ever known.
“I weighed my options. Teams were calling and everything, but the one thing was the familiarity here,” Hill said. “I’ve never stepped foot in another team’s facility, I’ve never been in another team’s organization, so I mean it was just knowing everybody.”
A flurry of changes have defined the Carroll era in Seattle, leaving Hill and cornerback Marcus Trufant as the only players left from the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season of 2005. While that year was one of his best as a professional, Hill hopes to replicate that success with a fresh start in 2011.
“It’s going to be like being a rookie all over again,” Hill said of his second-chance. “I haven’t started a game since the end of the 2009 season, so [after] missing all of last year, I’m ready.”