The license plates on his gleaming yellow Porsche read, "Dial 80." When Tony Hill is asked for an explanation, he chirps, "Just call my number and I'll be there."
When he answers the telephone in his North Dallas townhouse, a simple "Hello" does not suffice. "Tony Hill, shoot to kill, never miss and never will," he says, often.
As a rookie, he arrived at the practice field one morning wearing socks carrying another message printed neatly with black marking pen: "Let Hill give you a thrill on the field." He has been known as Thrill Hill ever since.
And whenever Tony Hill scores a touchdown -- this year, once every 10 catches -- a simple spike is not enough. He extends his arms out at a 45-degree angle and calls the little celebration "wings of victory."
"Tony Hill," said Cowboy Personnel Director Gil Brandt, "is 23 going on 19."
Hill also is the Cowboys' leading pass receiver, a young man who exudes confidence. And if many of his peers in the NFL consider him a showboating, hot-dogging, big-mouthing bozo, Hill couldn't care less.
"Confidence," he said today, "is the biggest part of my game. "In order to be the best, you have to think you are the best. And I think I'm the best.
"I have another saying, 'To be the boss, you've got to pay the cost.' I'm willing to pay the cost, take the hits, the cheap shots and come back for more.
"Am I a hot dog? The Redskins evidently think so. That's not what I want to be remembered for. Sure, I talk a lot on the field; that's just my style. I don't do any harm. I don't try to intimidate or criticize people. I just want to catch the ball."
So far this season, Hill has had plenty of opportunities. He has 40 receptions and has done the wings-of-victory shtick nine times this season. He had two long touchdown catches against the Eagles Monday night, among seven passes for 213 yards, the most productive game for a Cowboy receiver since 1967.
"It would have been a lot nicer if we'd won," Hill said. "It was nice, but what did it mean? People always ask me if I think I should be catching more passes, too. I don't think that way. Sure, 60 or 70 a year would be nice, but my goal is to be the starter on a Super Bowl championship team."
Last year, Hill became a Cowboy starter by beating out Butch Johnson, a hero in Dallas' 27-10 Super Bowl victory after the 1977 season. In his first season as a regular, Hill led the Cowboys in receiving yardage and caught the winning touchdown pass in the Pro Bowl.
In a sense, Hill has been a professional athlete all his life. His father, Lee Roy, began offering his son bonuses -- cash or relief from yard work -- for outstanding performances.
"I started playing baseball when I was 6. That's when I became a hardcore athlete," Hill said. "My father was in the service at that time and he used to come home on leave. I'd wake him up at 5, 6 in the morning to go play catch.
"Before a big game in college, my father would go out in the backyard and throw passes to me and make sure I caught a quota. If I missed a ball, he'd really get on me.
"My father always said, 'If you can't do it well, don't do it at all.' When I was at Stanford, he never missed a game. He'd drive 400 miles to see me play at home. He'd fly all over the country to watch me play. I consider myself very lucky that way. Pops was gung-ho on sports, and my mother pushed the academics."
In high school in Long Beach, Calif., Hill truly was a student-athlete, a quarterback on the football team and a baseball pitcher who once struck out 18 men in a seven-inning game. He graduated from high school at 16, from Stanford at 20 and still wants to go to law school.
Although 500 coaches sent him recruiting inquiries, Stanford was the only college to recruit Hill as a wide receiver. He was a scrambler in high school ("Roger Staubach was my idol," he says), "and I figured I wouldn't last too long that way. Stanford was throwing the ball 55 times a game, so I figured if I just got a third of those passes, I'd make a name for myself."
Hill did precisely that. He broke all Stanford records hely by former all-pro Gene Washington, despite missing a number of games his senior year with an ankle problem. That injury was the major reason Hill was still around when the Cowboys took him on the third round of the 1977 draft.
"His productivity was very limited his senior season," Brandt said, "so a lot of teams stayed away. But we had the guy rated real well.
"He's such a fluid athlete, with great moves and outstanding hands. And anytime he catches it, he's a threat to go all the way. He's a guy who just lulls you to sleep. He runs as fast as he has to run. It also helps him to be on a team that has a running threat and a passing threat.
"He's the only kid I've ever signed where the father came to the airport to pick me up, then took me to his own press conference, right there at the house. They had 35 people -- writers, his old high school coach, the guy who recruited him to Stanford. I've never seen anything like it.
"The kid's done everything to justify it, too. He's one of the best in the league, and the potential is just unlimited. Even now, Tony's a guy who has no idea how good he can be. There aren't very many people who can cover this guy."
Two who will try Sunday are Redskin cornerbacks Lemar Parrish and Joe Lavender.
"I've been popped pretty good by both of them," Hill said. "But with our team, we can throw against any defensive back in the league. They can't afford to double one of us because somebody's gonna have single coverage, and any of our receivers love to see one-on-one coverage.
"Parrish was hurt last year when we played them, so I don't know too much about him except he's got a great reputation and a lot of interceptions.
"Now Lavender, he's the guy who uses that arm tackle. I don't want to say he takes cheap shots, but that's kind of dangerous.
"Fundamentally, they're both good defensive backs, but they're also going up against the best in the west. No, just make that the best."