One of the greatest one year wonders in NFL history. An absolute unicorn of a player, knowing both rushing fullbacks and white running backs are rare breeds. Basically Mike Alstott reincarnated. He began his career as a 7th round fullback, where he paved the way for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones back at Arkansas. Hillis impressed as a fill-in running back for the Broncos in 2008 but when he was shipped to the Browns alongside a 2011 6th round pick for Brady Quinn (fun fact, he never played a single game for the Broncos the two years he was there), he went fucking beast mode. Imagine trying to tackle 250 pounds of pure man coming right at you with the intent to kill. You’d shit yourself. Even Ray Lewis openly said Hillis was one of the hardest dudes he’s tried tackling.
A season nobody foresaw, and one where he broke Patriots fans’ hearts in their upset over them. He would go on to rush for 1177 yards and 11 TD’s, carving defenders for 4.4 yards per carry. He didn’t make the Pro Bowl, however. Because of his special year combined with the passion of Cleveland fans (makes you feel bad they’re called the Factory of Sadness), he topped a resurrected Michael Vick for the Madden 12 cover vote. Just a side note, but Madden 12 was the last great Madden before things went to shit. Still had create-a-team, in-depth franchise mode, MUT wasn’t in your fucking face 24/7, and gameplay was fun and responsive. And yes, Hillis was an absolute monster knowing he was the cover star (98 trucking, Jesus Christ).
But he was perhaps struck by the Madden Curse the hardest. The Browns wouldn’t pay him the contact he deserved, he infamously missed a game due to strep throat (his agent pushed him to miss) and ended up signing with the Chiefs to back up Jamaal Charles. After spending time as a back up for the Giants, he retired citing that his love for the game was gone and concussion history. Bit of a sad, rapid decline for what was a short-lived hero for the perenially depressed Browns. He gave the city of Cleveland a Madden cover star, a 1000 yard season, and a dub over the Patriots. He could be the last hybrid rushing fullback we ever see. Yet another talent wasted by the stupid ass Browns.