Saints Hall of Fame center John Hill dead at 68

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One of the most consistently solid offensive linemen in New Orleans Saints history is gone.

Former Saints center John Hill died Sunday night at the age of 68 of pancreatic cancer in Raleigh, NC. Hill had undergone surgery earlier this year.

Hill enjoyed a 14-year NFL career, spent mostly in New Orleans.

John HillA member of the Saints from 1975-1984, Hill played in 138 games, starting 134 and anchored the offensive line when the Saints became an offensive juggernaut in 1978-79 with the likes of Archie Manning, Tony Galbreath, Chuck Muncie, Wes Chandler, Henry Childs and Ike Harris. Manning was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1978 and made the Pro Bowl in 1978-79. Muncie, Chandler and Childs also made the Pro Bowl in 1979.

Hill played his first two seasons with the New York Giants (1973-74) after being drafted in the sixth-round by the Giants out of Lehigh. He finished his career with San Francisco in 1985. He played in 177 games in the NFL.

The Lehigh Hall of Fame member was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1992.

Hill was voted to the New Orleans Saints all-time team for both the 45th and 50th years of the franchise.

Saints Hall of Fame inductee Derland Moore, who played with Hill here for 10 years, was Hill’s close friend, roommate and the man opposite him at practice on a daily basis. Moore was the best man at his wedding.

“John and I lived together for three years,” Moore said. “He was a lot of fun. We would literally fist-fight because we were going against each other all the time and then we would sit down and eat dinner together afterwards. He would analyze everything. We called him ‘play-by-play.’ He was some competitor, tough as nails. He would fight with you to the end of every play. We kind of fed on each other. He was a great guy and a very good football player. John met his wife at training camp in Vero Beach. They are great people.”

Moore recalled one game situation which illustrated the toughness of Hill.

“We were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Moore said. “He and Joe Greene got into it. Kurt Schumacher told John to ‘shut up’ because he would make him mad. He was Mean Joe Greene, after all. John did not care. He felt he could compete with anyone.”

Saints Hall of Fame and Saints Ring of Honor recipient Archie Manning took snaps from Hill over seven seasons.

“John was a good, solid player,” Manning said. “We played a lot of games together. He was a good guy, a good friend. He was kind of in that bunch that came from the Giants. We had quite a few that came from the Giants. John was always one of the funny guys who kept us loose. I had a lot of confidence in John. He was a consistent player. He wasn’t the biggest, strongest or quickest but he was all of that. He played with a lot of pride and he was smart. He was a good center in the NFL. It was a pleasure to play with him.”

Guard Emanuel Zanders was Hill’s teammate with the Saints from 1975-80, playing next to him on the offensive line.

“I remember how he made the team, working hard,” Zanders said. “He was a great guy. We made a great team in the middle of the offensive line with Conrad Dobler. We worked very well together and brought a lot of pride to the line. He was a kind-hearted guy who worked hard. John was always laughing. All of my prayers and sympathies go to his family. He was a really good person, a really good player and a really good teammate.”

Hill is survived by his wife, Denise, and their two children. The services are set for Saturday at the Soapstone United Methodist Church in Raleigh from 1-3 p.m.

OBITUARY:

John Hill of Raleigh, NC passed away on October 21, 2018 at the age of 68.

Born in East Orange, NJ and a graduate of Lehigh University, John was drafted by the New York Giants in 1972. He spent 14 years playing football in the NFL, 10 of which were with the New Orleans Saints. In 1986, John moved to Raleigh, NC with his wife, Denise, and their two daughters, Lauren and Megan, where he began his second career as a State Farm Insurance Agent.

He enjoyed working on the family horse farm, tinkering in his garage, golfing with friends and spending time with his wife, children, grandchildren and his dog Cooper.

A compassionate man with an outlook on life second to none, John had no bucket list; his family was his greatest joy. He is survived by his wife, Denise Hill; daughters Lauren Haberkorn and Megan Dooner; sons-in-law Marc Haberkorn and Rob Dooner; and two grandchildren, Laney (3) and Gracelynn (4). He is preceded in death by his father, Otto H. Hill and his mother, R. Elizabeth Hill of Raleigh, NC.

A visitation will be held on Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at Soapstone United Methodist Church at 12837 Norwood Road in Raleigh, NC with the memorial service to immediately follow.

Flowers are appreciated or you may consider donating to a cause close to John’s heart, including The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins or the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of John S. Hill please visit our Sympathy Store.

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