SCOTTSDALE, AZ --- Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton was going to be disappointed if he didn't get drafted by Team Carter for the 2015 Pro Bowl. That's because he wanted to finally play with his childhood friend, Team Carter captain, and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
"We go back way far," said Hilton, after Team Carter's practice Friday at Scottsdale Community College. "When he was six, I was probably five."
Both played for the youth football program at Gwen Cherry Park in the Liberty City area of Miami, Florida but never on the same team. That's because Brown is one year older than Hilton and was in a higher weight class than Hilton all those years growing up. Hilton then went from Miami Springs High School onto FIU before the NFL, with Brown attending Miami Norland High School before attending Central Michigan. They finally get a chance to line up together in Hilton's first Pro Bowl Sunday and his 3rd season as a pro.
"I just remember every year he got better and better, until one year when I was down in the park, he was the guy, man," Brown told Colts.com Friday. "The young guy who everyone wanted to see play, big play guy."
Brown said in October when Hilton's Colts were getting ready to play his Steelers they may not have ever played on the same team at Gwen Cherry Park, but for 10 years they made each other better practicing with each other.
"His dad was one of my youth coaches, who meant a lot to me growing up," said Brown in October.
"They're real close," said Hilton of their fathers. "Come Saturday we always just had fun on game day."
Along with Hilton and Brown, the Liberty City area of Miami also produced NFL star wideouts Santana Moss and Chad Johnson (Ochocinco). Back at the park, Brown played in the 125-pound division as a kid. Hilton was in the 105-pound class. Now, they're both proving size doesn't always matter when it comes to receivers at the highest level. Hilton is 5'9", 179 pounds, with Brown not much bigger at 5'10", 186 pounds. Brown was the NFL's leading receiver in 2014 with 1,698 yards, and Hilton finished 6th in the league with 1,345 yards. By comparison, 2013's leading receiver Josh Gordon is 6'3", 225 pounds.
"One thing you can't coach is our heart," said Hilton, who also added Brown is the only other receiver he watches tape of on his iPad, keeping tabs as a friend and a fan. "We aren't ever scared to go across the middle, go deep. We can do it all, catch the ball and go to the house. For us, it's always special to go out there and play at a high level."
"They like to label us as small guys, because guys that are our size have never been able to do what we've been able to do," said Brown. "The bigger guys are able to get compared to some of the older guys who have done it for a long time. It's hard to differentiate who to place us among, so we get the small tag a lot, but I'm loving it."
So are their current teams and all their friends and family back near Gwen Cherry Park in Miami, Florida.