Roy Hilton, a defensive end best remembered for helping the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V, has died at the age of 75.
A 6-foot-6, 240-pounder who was often described as looking more like a basketball player than a football player, Hilton proved quick out of his stance and difficult to handle. That was seen most in Super Bowl V, when the Cowboys lined up All-Pro offensive tackle Ralph Neely against Hilton, thinking Neely would get the better of the matchup and they could run behind him all game. Instead, Hilton held his own against the run and blew past Neely on passing plays, twice sacking Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton and once pressuring him into an interception.
“After the game, Mac [Colts coach Don McCafferty] came over to me, shook my hand and just said, ‘Thanks,'” Hilton recalled years later to the Baltimore Sun. “That was the highlight of my entire career. See, I was fired up for the Super Bowl because, beforehand, Dallas had switched Neely from one side of its offensive line to the other. They wanted to get him away from [Colts All-Pro defensive end] Bubba Smith. I guess they thought I was easy pickings for Neely, and it ticked me off.”
A ticked off Hilton was a danger to opposing quarterbacks. Although sacks were not an official statistic in those days, he got to the quarterback regularly and was a starter on one of the best defenses in football.
A native of Mississippi, Hilton played his college football at Jackson State and was drafted in 1965 by both the Colts in the NFL and the Houston Oilers in the American Football League. He chose the Colts and spent nine seasons with them, then played one year with the Giants and after considering retirement spent a final year with the Falcons in 1975. He missed only one game in his 11 seasons, and is remembered as a steady and reliable teammate, who helped his team win a Super Bowl.