I’ve done a series of these blogs throughout the season, and this player is a bit different than the other ones I have done. Rodney Hampton and Leonard Marshall were both very good players who made Pro-Bowls and received prestigious awards. The player I’ll be discussing today, Ike Hilliard, never really did that. But I think 1 thing’s for sure:
Ike Hilliard is underrated on the pantheon of Giants receivers.
Ike Hilliard was the Giants 1st round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. Now, I wasn’t around back then so I don’t know how people felt about the pick back then, but if you take any player within the top 10 of the draft, you expect results. In that regard, Ike Hilliard may have been a disappointment. He never achieved a 1,000-yard season or made a Pro-Bowl. What he did do, was show up almost every Sunday for 8 years for the Giants and be a reliable receiver for whoever was playing QB, whether that be Danny Kanell, Kent Graham, Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner, or even Eli Manning. Despite never achieving the heights fans might have expected in ’97, he was a hell of a second fiddle to Amani Toomer and was a playmaker whenever he got the ball in his hands as can be seen in the clip below.
📽️ Ike Hilliard (@Coach_Ike19) was good.
Top-10 pick & 8-year #Giants starter (1997-2004), Ike was extremely dangerous after the catch, on third-downs & fearless going over the middle. #TBT #OnceAGiantAlwaysAGiant #NYGiantsFilms #GiantsPride #NYG 🏈 pic.twitter.com/EPvXl9SxBF
— NY Giants Films (@NYGiantsFilms) July 7, 2022
Hilliard was a major part of the 2000 Giants Super Bowl team, especially in the NFC Championship against the Vikings. In that game, Hilliard went for 155 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. He would go on to play 4 more seasons for the Bucs following his departure from the Giants in 2004, but he left his true mark on Big Blue. In 2010, Hilliard would sign a 1 day contract to retire as a Giant. As it currently stands, Hilliard is 10th all time in Giants receiving yards, and is truly an underappreciated player.
Hilliard was never the best receiver on his Giants teams. He was overshadowed by Amani Toomer for most of his Giants career, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a valuable piece of the team. I compare him to current Giants receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard is never the number 1 receiver but he is someone who puts his head down and works every Sunday. If you ask any Giant fan who was watching during the Ike Hilliard years, I’m sure they will talk about him with nothing but praise.
If I had 1 word to describe Ike Hilliard’s tenure with the Giants, I would call it underrated.
(Vincent Laforet/The New York Times)