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02/03/2010

Field Agent: Hill provides insider's view on law enforcement and pro football

If anyone is in a position to draw parallels between professional football and federal law enforcement, it's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Randal Hill. Before embarking on his current career with ICE, Hill's personal playbook included a high-profile, seven-year career as a wide receiver for three teams in the National Football League (NFL), including four years with the Arizona Cardinals, two years with the Miami Dolphins and one year with the New Orleans Saints before retiring from the game in 1997.

As Super Bowl XLIV (44), scheduled for Feb. 7, 2010, at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla., approaches, Hill, assigned to ICE's Special Agent in Charge (SAC) office in Miami, is enforcing the nation's intellectual property rights laws. He'll be targeting counterfeiters expected to be in Miami in full force hawking their imitation NFL jerseys, hats and other football paraphernalia.

Hill, 40, waxed philosophical about family, football, federal law enforcement and the game of life in general.

"Sometimes, I can be a real nerd," Hill said, crediting hedonic calculus as a philosophy he relies on to help him make important decisions.

Hill received a sociology degree and also studied philosophy while playing football for the University of Miami from 1987 to 1991. The 1991 Cotton Bowl game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Texas Longhorns, in which Hill accepted a 48-yard pass from Craig Erikson, goes down in college football history as a game that ended in a record-setting victory margin with a score of 46 to 3, Miami's favor. Hill's lustrous football career also includes ranking second in the NFL fastest man competition in 1992 and meeting both President Ronald Reagan and President George Herbert Walker Bush.

Hill retired from the NFL in 1998, playing four years beyond the three-year career average of most pro ball players. Without missing a beat, Hill took to the streets, first as a police officer with the Sunrise Police Department (Fla.), then as a deputy sheriff with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (Fla.), before segueing into the special agent position with the ICE in Sept. 2003.

Prior to the Miami field office, Hill was assigned to Newark. He's conducted investigations in the national security division and bulk cash smuggling in addition to targeting counterfeiters. Looking at the analytical side of both football and law enforcement, Hill said both occupations induce stress.

"If you drop a ball, you can cause every player on the team to lose $30,000," Hill said. "If you're late for an NFL briefing, you can be fined $1,000 a minute. There are no second chances. You can't come in second place in either football or in law enforcement."

Hill hasn't lost touch with his humble beginnings growing up with his brother and sister on a small plot of land in Miami. He reminisced about working a small garden and helping his father raise honey bees and chickens.

"We ate breakfast every day at 5 a.m." Drinking and smoking were not allowed. "I don't believe any sports figure should be a role model. A parent or a close family member needs to be a role model," Hill said, citing his own parents as his own role models.