Memories of Hill Are Not Forgotten By the Patriots
Thursday, January 31, 2008
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Jan. 30 -- Randall Gay left his home in Louisiana for an early-morning workout on Memorial Day. He noticed on his cellphone he had missed a midnight call from New England Patriots teammate Jarvis Green. It was odd, he thought, for Green to have called him at that hour.
"He knows I don't stay up that late," Gay said. "I go to sleep early."
But then Gay's phone rang twice more. It was Green. "I was like, 'Something's got to be going on,' " Gay said.
What Green told him was so shocking that Gay didn't believe it at first: Patriots defensive end Marquise Hill had been involved in a jet-skiing accident on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans and was missing.
Green assured Gay he wasn't kidding, and Gay went back into his house and told his wife. They called Hill's fiancee, Inell Benn, who said she was on her way to the lake. Gay said he would join her there, and he made the 45-minute drive to New Orleans.
He was there on the shore later that day when authorities found Hill's body and pulled it from the lake, the day after Hill went missing. Life since hasn't been quite the same for any of the Patriots.
The loss has been particularly devastating for Green and Gay, both of whom played with Hill at Louisiana State. Both said they've thought of Hill every day since his death, and both said they will think of him again Sunday when they face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
"He's there," Green, who has worn Hill's shoulder pads all season, quietly said Wednesday at the Scottsdale resort at which the Patriots are staying this week. Teammates also have been honoring Hill this season by wearing a round black sticker with his No. 91 in white lettering on their helmets.
"I have a piece of what he'd been wearing since he was in college. I know he's looking down. That means a lot to me."
Hill spent three seasons with the Patriots after being selected in the second round of the 2004 NFL draft. He hadn't fulfilled his draft-day promise, but was well liked within the locker room and was particularly close to Green.
Green, also a defensive end, was a junior at LSU when he was told by the school's coach, Nick Saban, that the program was recruiting a young player from New Orleans named Marquise Hill who had followed Green's career since high school and idolized him. Hill came for his official recruiting visit and went to a basketball game with Green and Saban. Green and Hill instantly became friends.
"When I first met him, it seemed like I'd known him forever," said Green, who was Hill's boss on a summer construction job.