Former NFL linebacker Geno Hayes tragically passed away after a long battle with liver disease on Monday, according to reports. Hayes, who last played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014, was aged 33 at the time of his passing. Fans on social media were left stunned at Hayes' passing and were quick to send in their tributes to the ex-NFL player.
On Monday, Frankie Carroll, who coached Hayes at Madison County and is the athletic director at Worth County High in Georgia, told the Democrat he was informed of the former NFL player’s passing by Hayes' family. Hayes was only 33 at the time of his death and it was revealed that his health took a turn for the worse when he was diagnosed with chronic liver disease in 2019. Hayes had lost 70 pounds during his illness, dropping from 220 to 150.
Sad news to report as former Buccaneer LB Geno Hayes passed away tonight. Hayes had been battling liver disease and was under hospice care. Prayers to Hayes’ family and friends#RIPGenoHayes #BucsLifeMedia pic.twitter.com/ITEvDCHV2x— Bucs Life Media (@BucsLifeMedia) April 27, 2021
Hayes was under hospice care on April 22, in South Georgia after experiencing complications from liver disease, according to People. Hayes told ESPN reporter Jenna Laine that he had been fighting liver failure for two years and was awaiting a transplant. It is believed that Hayes' transplant was expected to take place in December.
I can confirm that former Bucs linebacker Geno Hayes is in hospice care fighting liver disease. I'd spoken to him multiple times over the last several weeks while awaiting a liver transplant. Please keep him in your prayers.— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) April 22, 2021
By his own admission, Hayes wasn't an alcoholic and barely drank: "The first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis. 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.'"
Despite the fact that alcoholic liver cirrhosis is on the rise in people aged 25 to 34, according to a 2018 University of Michigan report, Hayes believes his disorder was triggered by nonprescription pain killers coupled with a family history of liver disease. During his playing career, Hayes said he took over-the-counter pain relievers, but only as instructed on the bottle.
Hayes spent three years at Florida State, signing for the team in 2005, where he started as an undersized defensive lineman before he moved to linebacker and became an All-American. Hayes finished his junior season at Florida State second on the team in total tackles with 94 and was first in tackles for loss with 17.5.
He then spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chicago Bears and the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, he had been a free agent since 2014. Hayes was known for his instincts, athleticism and quickness during his time in the NFL. He played a total of 101 career NFL games with 70 starts spread between the Bucs (2008-11), the Bears (2012) and the Jags (2013-14). He had 401 career tackles and 10 sacks.