I believe the New York Giants will cut ties with safety Will Hill following his third NFL-imposed suspension in as many years for violating the league's substance abuse policy. And I believe without any hesitation that they should. Apparently, Giants' fans disagree.
In our poll, 81 percent (1,568) of the 1,947 voters want the Giants to keep Hill. Only 19 percent (379 voters) want the Giants to cut ties with him.
The disparity shocked me. In all honesty, I can't understand the adamant arguments for keeping Hill. It seems to come down to three things:
- It's only weed
- The Giants can't let the Cowboys or Eagles pick him up
- It's only six games, he can still play 10
Now, let's debunk all three arguments.
'It's Only Weed'
This argument was summed up by this comment in Friday's story regarding Hill's suspension. The comment was rec'd six times:
This is pot we are talking about. It's not like it's Pookie or something.
That completely misses the point. Tom Rock of Newsday nailed the point on Friday with this tweet:
If the Giants release Will Hill, it won't be because he smoked pot. It will be because he couldn't follow rules. Not a moral judgment.— Tom Rock (@TomRock_Newsday) May 30, 2014
That is precisely the point. This is not a social debate over whether or not marijuana should be legal, or a referendum on when or if the NFL will change its rules regarding players using pot. This is a debate about what the rules ARE, and about Hill's obvious inability -- or unwillingness -- to follow them.
This is not a first offense, or an accidental one. This is the third time in three years that a player who knows the rules -- and the consequences -- has chosen to disregard those rules. The first suspension was for Adderall. Again, the point isn't whether or not it should be a banned substance. The point is that it is a banned substance, Hill knew that and used it anyway. Last year the suspension was for pot, and this year it is apparently again for pot.
Hill has said in the past that he needs the marijuana to help him overcome anxiety. The question is this -- does he need the weed more than he needs the NFL? He knows the consequences, knows that eventually he is going to run out of chances with the Giants, yet keeps answering yes to the 'is weed more important than the NFL?' question.
Forget the substance. If a guy obviously can't follow the rules and continuously hurts your team by not being available because of that, how many times can you enable him by allowing him to come back?
This is three strikes for Hill.
What If The Cowboys or Eagles Pick Him Up?
This argument was summed up by 'Ghost Dini' in Friday's comments:
I don't want him getting picked up a safety-needy NFC East team after his suspension ends
I don't want to see Will Hill being the new Brian Dawkins on Philly. Philly hasn't won a playoff game since Dawkins left.
'TrueBlue89' put it this way:
You don't cut him
if he can come back to hurt you. Which he will. Absolutely the wrong move to cut him this year.
The counter-argument to that is this. He is already hurting the Giants. He is getting himself suspended every year and leaving his teammates to try to pick up the pieces. Who cares what other teams do or who picks him up? If you are an NFL organization you have to do what is best for YOUR team, for your locker room, for your franchise. You can't make decisions based on what other teams might do. The Philadelphia Eagles cut DeSean Jackson knowing full well someone, possibly a division rival, would pick him up. They did it anyway because they felt it was the best move for their team. I'm sure they weren't thrilled to see him land in Washington, but they did what they thought was best for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Yes, Hill is incredibly talented. He has also proven -- three times now -- that he can't be trusted. How do you build a consistent, winning team around players you can't actually count on to play?
Fans spend too much time -- far too much time -- worrying about what other teams have done or might do. No, it wouldn't be great to have to face Hill as a member of the Cowboys, Eagles or Redskins. It isn't great for the Giants to try to build a defense around a key player who can't be counted on to remain available.
Simply put, it is time for the Giants to move on without Hill. Let him go be somebody else's problem.
He Can Still Play 10 Games
This is also the 'he's one of the best players in the league at his position' argument.
Here is '56 4Life:
This is a Top Five Safety we're talking about.
I honestly don't care about double standards and what not. Having Will Hill on defense upgrades us tremendously. You don't get rid of an asset like that. I'd rather keep him as a part time player than watch him play for another team.
And as far as sending a message to the other players? How about this message: If you can up your game and be as good as Hill is on the field, you can get the leeway we're giving him. You crack down on Hill behind closed doors, have people watching him 24/7, make him do a bunch of extra P.T and whatnot, whatever. Just don't let him go. End of story.
'Terp In Paradise' commented:
I mean only being out for 6 weeks...
he can still come back and help the team make the playoffs!!!
Here is the counter-argument to all of that. Those six games count! So did the four games he missed last year -- all of which the Giants lost. And the four games he missed the season before.
The fact that he is good -- really good at his job -- when he is playing doesn't matter when he can't be relied on to be available. There is a huge difference, maybe beyond huge, between a guy missing time with injuries and a guy missing time because of self-inflicted suspensions because he isn't mature enough or accountable enough to follow the rules.
The 'what about Lawrence Taylor' argument came up in the comments. Let's understand that Taylor was never a nice guy, still isn't, and lived by his own set of rules. And yes, maybe Bill Parcells turned a blind eye sometimes because of Taylor's incredible talent.
Two things to remember, though. Will Hill is talented, but he's not Lawrence Taylor. He is not a historic, Hall of Fame player. He made the Giants roster as an undrafted free agent, and he is fortunate to be in the league. The other is this -- no matter what Taylor did off the field, he NEVER left his team in the lurch on the field. He showed up every Sunday and gave everything he had to help his team. You can't even try to make that argument about Hill. His actions show clearly that Hill is concerned only about Hill and what makes him comfortable, not about the impacts of his actions on his teammates or the organization that signs his paychecks.
There is also this to consider. What about the credibility of GM Jerry Reese or head coach Tom Coughlin? Especially Coughlin, a famous stickler for rules. Isn't their credibility, their ability to demand accountability from players, hold them to a standard and keep the locker room united, damaged when they simply ignore a player's misdeeds because of his talent?
Hill is a tremendously talented player. The Giants gave him a chance when no one else in the NFL would -- in fact, they gave him two chances to even make the roster. They have stood by him, supported him, tried to get him help to deal with his anxiety and overcome his need for marijuana. Cutting him now would not be abandoning him, as some have suggested. It would simply be acknowledging that whatever he needs they can't really provide, and that the reality is you can't build a winning team around players you can't depend on.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I believe Hill's time with the Giants is over. And it should be over. If the Giants choose to support him -- again -- let's all hope it works out for the best. There is, however, no evidence to make anyone think that it will.
It is time, quite simply, for both sides to move on.