Hill was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 1977 NFL Draft. He started his career as a punt retuner and backup wide receiver, winning a championship ring with the Cowboys when they defeated the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII.
The following season he became a starting wide receiver over the more-experienced Golden Richards and Butch Johnson.At the end of the season he made the Pro Bowl, after catching 46 passes for 823 yards and 6 touchdowns, while helping the team to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance. In Dallas’ 35-31 Super Bowl XIII loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he caught 2 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Known for his quick speed and big play ability, Coach Tom Landry called him “Our Home Run Hitter. I’ve never seen a guy who could adjust to a ball in mid-air like Tony. He is a very explosive player—the type who can turn a short play into a big play in a hurry, because he has excellent running ability and speed.”
In 1979, he and Drew Pearson—along with Tony Dorsett—helped the Cowboys become the first team in NFL history to have two 1,000-yards wide receivers and a 1,000-yard running back, when he recorded 60 receptions, 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns. Pearson and Hill also became the first wide receiver tandem in Cowboys history, to record 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the same year.
Hill became the number one receiver when Pearson retired after the 1983 season. His best season statistically came in 1985, where he caught 74 passes for 1100 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He eventually became one of the top wide receiver in the NFL from 1978 to 1985, and was dubbed the “Thrill” and “Dial 80”, because of his explosiveness and ability to make big plays. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, during his ten-year career with the Cowboys, Hill led the team in both receptions and yardage for nine straight years. He never played in a Super Bowl again, but played in 10 more postseason games. One of the better performances in his career was in a 1982 divisional playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he caught 7 passes for 142 yards in the Cowboys’ 38-0 win.
He was waived by the Cowboys in 1987 at the start of training camp.。 His 8,072 total yards (rushing and receiving), ranks him fourth in the Cowboys All-Time list in that category, behind Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday salutes …Tony Hill