In My Opinion

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver, former FIU standout T.Y. Hilton is ‘The Bomb’ — just ask his mom

T.Y. Hilton and his mother, Cora Hilton, after Hilton had 11 catches for 155 yards in Indianapolis’ Dec. 29 win against Jacksonville.
T.Y. Hilton and his mother, Cora Hilton, after Hilton had 11 catches for 155 yards in Indianapolis’ Dec. 29 win against Jacksonville.
The Hilton family

The performance by her son, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, brought Miami’s Cora Hilton to tears just to speak of it Thursday. Cora worried that Eugene (T.Y.’s given name) wouldn’t be able to pull it off so she made him promise he would.

“I was so so happy when he finally got his degree,” Cora Hilton gushed.

T.Y. finished his FIU liberal studies degree during the summer. Cora Hilton has a degree from Morris Brown. If Foxborough, Mass., could promise more degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, she would be up there to see T..Y try to elude whatever defensive deployment New England’s Bill Belichick concocts to remove Hilton from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s arsenal.

Hilton’s The Bomb. The Bomb can change everything. Because The Bomb can bring chaos, The Bomb brings fear. Everybody wants to have The Bomb. Not everybody likes using The Bomb. Somebody else having The Bomb makes people nervous. Coaches wear nervous like official team attire.

Even before the Colts lost former University of Miami wide receiver Reggie Wayne to a season-ending injury, Hilton saw the occasional double-team. Teammates responded to his grumbling about it by saying he could blame himself for scoring in every exhibition game.

Now, without Wayne, a bigger, more durable Hilton has evolved into a chain mover instead of just a chunk mover. Last week, Colts MacGuyver quarterback Andrew Luck threw Hilton 18 passes. Passes thrown at the next three most targeted Colts receivers combined: 19.

Hilton’s first touchdown in last week’s 13-catch, 224-yard performance against Kansas City, the third greatest yardage in NFL playoff history, came at the end of a chain-moving drive — four catches, three first downs, including the 10-yard touchdown. His second, the 64-yard game winner off a streak out of the slot, defined “chunk yardage,” especially if you consider the stomachs of all those rib-bulked Kansas City fans.

Back in Liberty City, in the household of Cora and the actual T.Y. Hilton, Cora felt vindicated before 25 friends and family when she insisted the Colts weren’t done when down 38-10 early in the third quarter. “[They]all looked at me like I was crazy,” she said.

But she has a mother’s belief in her football-playing son, one of the Hiltons four children.

She has seen him stay out of any real, bail-’em-out trouble by repeatedly making good decisions. She has seen him forced to grow into a man by becoming a father in high school. With mixed feelings, she saw him leave home for Indianapolis and grow into full adult stability — husband, Colts stalwart — while remaining her Boo Bear.

“He’s my comfort,” Cora explained about the name.

After last week’s game, Cora phoned her son, now part of the national football vernacular, and did that thing mothers do when they praise you then remind you you’ll always be their little one with a small scold.

“He missed a ball during the game and I told him, ‘You can’t drop that money,’ ” she laughed. “He said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. When we came off, I apologized to Luck.’ 

The bank operations department officer remembers taking 5-year-old T.Y. to sign up at the Boys Club for sports and having to calm his tears after being told because his birthday fell after Sept. 1, he would have to wait a year to enroll.

Cora, an athlete herself (basketball at Morris Brown, serious softball these days along with her husband), even loved to watch T.Y. practice, no matter the sport. They called him “Little Jeter,” she recalled, in baseball because he dived all over the place for balls and “he could hit the ball as far as anyone on the team,” though he was on the small side.

Or, you know that thing where your mother reminds you of something you would remember if you only had three memory cells left? Yep, Cora does that. She reminds T.Y. before every game about the prayer cloth he keeps under his thigh pad. The cloth has been prayed over for days to provide the wearer protection.

The rest of the football-watching nation marvels at Hilton’s metamorphosis as a complete receiver. His mother doesn’t marvel, but revels in her boy’s metamorphosis into a complete man.

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