Minnesota Vikings quarterback Shaun Hill is the definition of a journeyman in the NFL. He is entering his 15th NFL season and in that time he has played on four different teams. He has only started 34 games throughout his career but has played in a total of 46.
He has lived the life of a backup since entering the league as a rookie free agent in 2005. It’s a role that not everyone is able to handle because there is a lot of uncertainty that comes with it and the role on the team can often change in an instant. One play can be the difference in standing on the sideline and lining up under center and controlling the offense.
“I keep the same approach no matter what,” Hill began. “That’s just the way I’ve had to approach this league my whole career. For the most part, I’ve been a backup quarterback in this league and life as a backup is there’s no warning. You got to be ready and you’re going just in the blink of an eye. So that’s always been my approach.”
2016 has already been a whirlwind of a season for Hill and the Vikings haven’t even played their first regular season game yet. He began the season as the team’s backup quarterback to Teddy Bridgewater, who is out for the year with a torn ACL and other structural damage in his knee.
Hill was then slated to be the starter. He was ready for the challenge in front of him and appeared to have the backing of everyone in the Vikings organization, from the players to general manager Rick Spielman.
“It doesn’t mean that they don’t have confidence if they do something like that,” Hill said of the Bradford trade. “Obviously they had an opportunity to get a good player that they felt could help this team win. And I’ve been with Sam before and I get along great with Sam, and he is a good player, so they added a good player to this roster.”
In the blink of an eye, Hill has gone from the Vikings starting quarterback to competing with Bradford for the starting job Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans, but he says he is OK with that. He is just continuing to approach this season the same way he always has.
“I stay right in my lane,” he explained. “I keep that same narrow focus throughout the whole season, whether I’m playing or not. That’s just the way I’ve always approached it and that’s the way it’s worked for me.”
The life of a backup is not a glamorous one and it is not always an stable one, but it is one that has given Hill a 15-year career in the NFL. That’s longer than most players last and that experience will allow him to be ready for Sunday’s game, whether he is named the starter or not.