SALT LAKE CITY — Taysom Hill admits finding the balance between faith, family and football is a difficult one.
It’s something the former BYU quarterback — now a jack-of-all-trades for the New Orleans Saints — admits he struggles with, while emphasizing he and his wife, Emily, focus on taking advantage of whatever “season” their life is in.
“I wish I just had a really easy answer. That’s something my wife and I deal with every year and that we struggle with every year,” Hill said during a Facebook live Q&A session last week with missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho.
For Hill, part of that struggle right now comes with the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting the usual offseason routine, as teams throughout the NFL have shut down facilities until further notice. It’s been a unique offseason in other ways for Hill, who hit restricted free agency for the first time before recently signing a two-year, reported $21 million contract extension to stay with the Saints through the 2021 season.
“The thing that we’ve realized is there are seasons in life, and you’ve got to make sure you take advantage of whatever season it is.” — New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill
“What I’ve realized is as you go through life, life has different seasons as well. Right now, we’re in the offseason and we just canceled our offseason schedule. My life is out of balance in a great way where I can spend a lot of time with my wife, with my other family members and I can take care of them,” he said.
Once training camp begins, Hill explained, the next “season” begins as he prepares for the start of another football season and extended time away from his family. That family dynamic will soon change for Hill and his wife, who announced a few weeks ago they’ll be expecting their first child in August.
“The thing that we’ve realized is there are seasons in life, and you’ve got to make sure you take advantage of whatever season it is,” he said. “If it happens to be football season for me, I try and go be the best football player I possibly can because I know it’s going to benefit my wife, it’s going to benefit my family. But when it’s my offseason, I do my best to make sure that I’m the best husband, the best father — or future father — that I can be.”
Hill, who served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ to Sydney, Australia, pointed to personal faith habits that help him and his wife through the challenging times.
“We talked about being excellent at whatever you do. You need to be focused on those things, but you need to realize there are seasons in life and things are going to get out of balance, but I find time to read my scriptures, have personal prayer. My wife and I study the scriptures together, we pray together every night, and that doesn’t matter if we’re away from each other or it’s the offseason. That’s a priority for us, and we make sure we do it,” he said.
Other topics Hill discussed with the missionaries during their nearly 30-minute conversation included what attributes define a champion, how fellow New Orleans quarterback and mentor Drew Brees epitomizes those attributes, what having a temple built in his hometown means to him and how trials have shaped who he has become.
“I wouldn’t put myself in that category,” Hill said while being asked to define a champion. “I’ve become really close with Drew, and I would say that he is one of the greatest to ever play the sport, to play the position.”
Hill attributed Brees’s success — the 41-year-old is a 13-time Pro Bowler who holds the NFL record for career completion percentage (67.6%) and who led the Saints to their lone championship in Super Bowl XLIV — to his tireless work ethic and leadership.
“Everything he does during the day has a purpose, and that purpose is to obviously get him as prepared for the upcoming game as possible so he can be successful for himself, but ultimately for his teammates,” Hill said.
As for creating a champion in one’s self, Hill pointed toward having a vision and sticking to it.
“I think it’s important to have a vision for yourself within you have to be able to put in the work to accomplish that and to get there,” Hill said. “... It’s that rare combination of having a vision and then having a routine and a plan to get there.”
Hill told Idaho Pocatello Mission President Steve Southward the significance of having a temple in his hometown hit him a few weeks ago when he had the opportunity to visit his parents. The Pocatello temple, announced in 2017, is expected to be completed in late 2021, according to the church. Hill — who attended Highland High in Pocatello, where he developed into a multi-faceted athletic star — participated in the ground-breaking ceremony for the Pocatello temple.
“I remember looking up on the hill — it’s an incredible location — it really hit me how important that is. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what an incredible symbol as we can look to the temple and know what that represents. I can tell you the most important things in my life are my family and having the opportunity to take my wife to the temple and be sealed there,” he said.
“What an incredible opportunity for all the saints in that valley to look at the temple and to see that and think about what it means to them in their lives.”
Hill, who played for BYU from 2012-16, threw for his 6,929 and 43 touchdowns during Cougar career and left as the school’s career leader in quarterback rushing yards, with 2,815. The dual-threat signal-caller also dealt with four season-ending injuries while at BYU.
He saw the opportunities amid the disappointment.
“I wasn’t able to play football, but there were still other things I could do to contribute to me, my family and progression, and that was academically,” Hill said. “I wasn’t competing on the football field, but I was competing academically. Honestly, those years that I got injured where some of my best academic years at BYU.”
In spring 2016, Hill and his family experienced tragedy when his older brother, Dexter, unexpectedly passed away. Hill said he relied on his family, and their knowledge of the plan of salvation, to help them navigate the loss.
“It was a bonding experience between me and my parents and my siblings. We really relied on our testimonies of the gospel. I can tell, it certainly strengthened mine,” he said.
Hill again pointed to having a clear focus as key to growing from life’s trials.
“I think everything points back to having vision for your life, to realize that you might have some trials and they might create a setback, but it’s not going to diminish what you can accomplish in your life,” he said.