Catching up with former Colts fullback Jerry Hill

He lined up at fullback, but from the moment he set foot in training camp in 1961, Jerry Hill understood his role with the Colts.

"I was John Unitas' bodyguard," he said.


For nine years, Hill policed the Baltimore backfield, protecting Unitas from defenders who thundered in to sack No. 19 or whoever was quarterbacking the Colts. Others got the glory; Hill got the satisfaction of a job well done.

Did Unitas critique his blocking?


"He would if I missed one," Hill said. Which wasn't often.

Gino Marchetti

Asked to tote the ball, the 5-foot-11 Hill didn't disappoint. He gained 2,668 career rushing yards (3.8 average) and led the team with 516 yards in 1965. In Super Bowl III — the one that Colts fans would as soon forget — he scored Baltimore's only touchdown.

In one of his best offensive performances, the Wyoming grad had 90 yards rushing, two receptions and a touchdown in a 45-17 victory over the Washington Redskins in 1964.

He doesn't recall the game.

"I just did my job each week and if I scored, great," said Hill, 73. "Then I'd hand the ball to the official, sit on the bench and wait. We weren't like these Hollywood types today who score, then wiggle their butts in the end zone and pound their chests, like they've never been there before.

"I wish they'd cut it out. It doesn't make the game more interesting."

Hill retired in 1971, following the Colts' Super Bowl championship, moved to Denver and ran a floor covering supply business. Now retired, he lives in Sheridan, Wyo., on the cusp of a golf course. There are photos of his Colts' teammates on the walls and a dusty six-pack of Colt 45 malt liquor in the basement.


Introduced by the National Brewing Company, of Baltimore, in 1963, the booze featured a blue-and-white label with a stallion, a horseshoe and the number 45, which matched that on Hill's jersey.

"I kept a few cans, just for kicks," he said. "Rumor was that they named it after me. If they did, I sure never got any royalties."

Physically, football took its toll, Hill said.

"I've had both knees replaced — the left one, twice — and my right shoulder, too. But I can get up and down the stairs, mow my own lawn and play golf. I don't get any better at it, but I play."

He has two children, three grandkids and the memories of a 52-year marriage that ended earlier this year with his wife's death from cancer.

"That's the toughest thing I've ever had to go through, and I'm still not through it," Hill said. "I think Suzanne has been around the house the past few days. Sometimes I'll wake up and think someone is calling 'Jerry.' Or I'll be sitting here, watching TV, and all of a sudden a shadow goes by and I'll think, 'What the heck is that?' "


The couple had planned a trip to Antarctica this winter, a month-long trek that Hill will take, after Christmas, in remembrance of his wife.

"She really wanted to go," he said, "and I don't want to disappoint."