KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Now begins the restoration of reputation for Peyton Hillis.
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The running back, dogged in Cleveland last year by reports that he might want to retire and even try a new career, will get a fresh start in Kansas City. Perhaps best of all, he's back with Brian Daboll, who ran the offense in Cleveland when Hillis enjoyed the finest season of his four-year NFL career.
"If I have to come here and build up my reputation again in a lot of peoples' eyes, I can do that because I know what kind of a player I am and I'm very excited about the opportunity," the versatile 250-pounder said Thursday.
The Chiefs, determined to upgrade the second-lowest scoring offense in the NFL, formally announced they had signed Hillis to a one-year contract, for a reported $3 million. He'll be counted on to provide a big-back partner for speedy Jamaal Charles, who went to the Pro Bowl in 2010 but missed almost all last season with a knee injury.
"I've never been healthier and never been more excited about playing football," Hillis said in a conference call.
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Hillis has rushed for 2,161 yards and 20 touchdowns in four seasons, and has caught 101 passes for 805 yards and three scores. While Charles was rushing for 1,467 yards and leading the NFL with 6.38 yards per carry in 2010, Hillis, under the tutelage of Daboll, was rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 TDs.
Daboll left to become Miami's offensive coordinator in 2011 and Hillis' fortunes sank, along with much of his health and dignity. Slowed by injuries, he appeared in only 10 games while rushing for 587 yards. A bad year was made even worse by reports he had threatened to retire and was mulling over a career as a U.S. spy.
Just how true those reports were, Hillis isn't saying.
"Well, you can't please everybody," he said. "What was said in the past, nobody will ever know. It's pretty much one person's word against the other. But I have no fallbacks there. I really enjoyed my time in Cleveland. The CIA talks and retirement talks were just horrendous."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press