Tyreek Hill: The NFL’s Roger Maris?

At this writing, Tyreek Hill has 1,104 yards receiving, after 9 games.

This puts Hill on pace to get 2,085 yards, in a 17-game season, which would break the all-time single-season record of 1,964 yards, established by Calvin Johnson in 2012, in a 16-game season.

What if, with one game remaining in this season, Hill has less than 1,964 yards, but goes over that figure in his 17th and final game — which is on January 8 on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field?

Did someone say "asterisk?"

Worse yet for Hill, he already has 76 catches in his nine games, putting him on pace for 144, rounded to the nearest catch (Johnson had "only" 122 catches in 2012).

Would the NFL treat Tyreek Hill with the same scorn that Major League Baseball heaped on Roger Maris when it attached an asterisk to his single-season home-run record because it was set in a 162-game season, when Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 154 games in 1927?

But Maris had to face the best pitching in baseball — something that Ruth did not have the opportunity to do because until 1947, our former national pastime excluded African-American players (obviously including pitchers), thanks largely to the most deplorable figure in American sports history, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball's commissioner from 1920 until his death in 1944.

And it was Landis' two-apart successor, Ford Frick, who ordered the asterisk appended to Maris' home-run record (Frick had been a long-time admirer of Ruth).

Of course, even Maris' record has since been broken seven times — three times by Sammy Sosa alone (in 1998, 1999, and 2001), twice by Mark McGwire (in 1998 and 1999) and once by Barry "U.S." Bonds (whose 73 home runs in 2001 is either the "official" or "unofficial" record, depending on who one talks to, because his home run total — and Sosa's and McGwire's — came during what can rightly and properly be referred to as the "Condoned Steroid Use Era" — although Aaron Judge, the biggest "position player" in Major League Baseball history, did it "for real" with 62 home runs in the just-concluded season).

But back to Hill (after all, this article is about him, just as Arlo Guthrie's opus Alice's Restaurant was about Alice): he was acquired by the Dolphins from the Chiefs for a first-round pick in the 2022 draft (which turned out to be cornerback Trent McDuffie), a second-round pick (wide receiver Skyy Moore; in both of these cases after Kansas City had made a complicated trade with New England) and a fourth-round pick (to which the Chiefs also traded to New England), along with two draft picks in 2023 — one in the fourth round and the other in the sixth round.

Concomitant with the trade, Hill signed a four-year contract extension worth $30 million a year, of which $72,200,000 is guaranteed, plus a signing bonus of $52,535,000, making him the highest-paid wide receiver of all-time.

(Meanwhile, the Dolphins don't have much to look forward to when it comes to the draft: After not having had a pick until the third round in 2022, the Dolphins won't have a first-rounder in 2023, either, because they allegedly "tampered" with both Tom Brady and Sean Payton — but if you think that's the real reason why they were stripped of this pick and a third-round pick in 2024, rather than the accusations of their having tanked games in 2019 to get a higher draft pick in 2020, then I own a bridge that connects New York City's boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn that I will be happy to sell to you at a reasonable price).

All this and an asterisk, too?

Unless Hill can get at least 861 yards in his next 7 games — an average of 123 yards per game, which is almost exactly the same as what he is averaging now — Roger Goodell will find himself on the horns of the same dilemma as Ford Frick.

Luckily for him, however, there is no evidence that Goodell is, or ever has been, an ardent admirer of Calvin Johnson (whose putative "clone," Packers rookie wide receiver Christian Watson, had been "combust," as they used to say in astronomy, until he had a big-time breakout game against Dallas on Sunday night, with four catches for 107 yards and three touchdowns, including a 58-yarder and a 39-yarder, after which his "owned percentage" in fantasy figures to rise exponentially).

But in any case, no one will accuse Hill of using "performance-enhancing drugs" to break the record — with or without any asterisk.

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