Geno Hayes, former NFL and Florida State linebacker, died Monday evening from liver disease, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. He was 33 years old. This news comes shortly after Hayes was placed in hospice care at his parents' home in Georgia.
Frankie Carroll, who coached Hayes at Madison County High School in Florida, was told about his passing by Hayes' family. “It's one of those things where you have to make sure you tell them you love them,” Carroll, who recently visited Hayes, told the Democrat. Earlier this year, Hayes told ESPN he'd been placed on the waiting list for a transplant at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine in December after being hospitalized over 20 times in the past year.
"The first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis," Hayes told ESPN before entering the hospital in March. "But when we dug in deeper, it became just chronic liver disease because I don't drink like that. If I did drink, it was just like wine or something like that. But my body is made different. And that's what [my doctor] said - 'Everybody's made different.'"
Hayes was a standout player at Florida State as he was named to the All-ACC First Team in 2007. During the 2007 season, Hayes recorded 80 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. "He was a good one, a linebacker who could run. Everyone was looking for that speed," FSU coach Bobby Bowden, 91, said Tuesday morning from his Killearn Estates home.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Hayes in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played in nine games during his rookie season and then became a starter in 2009. In his first season as a starter, Hayes recorded 98 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, three sacks, and two interceptions.
Hayes would play in Tampa Bay for another three seasons before signing a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears in 2012. In his one season with the Bears, Hayes notched 16 tackles in 15 games with three starts. In 2013, Hayes signed a two-year, $2 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 30 games, Hayes tallied 128 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. In his seven NFL seasons, Hayes finished with 401 tackles, 10 sacks, six interceptions, six forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.