Former NFL, FSU LB Geno Hayes Dies at Age 33 from Liver Disease

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2021

Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Geno Hayes in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 34-17. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Former Florida State and NFL linebacker Geno Hayes died Monday night at the age of 33 from liver disease.

Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat was informed by Hayes' former high school coach, Frankie Carroll, that Hayes died at his parents' home in Georgia while under hospice care.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @Buccaneers

Rest in peace, Geno 🙏 https://t.co/RxSKQX8mNZ

ESPN's Jenna Laine reported last week that Hayes had been moved into hospice care two years after first being diagnosed with liver disease. Hayes told Laine that he had been placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant in December after being hospitalized more than 20 times in the previous year.

Hayes also explained his diagnosis: "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.'"

Hayes expressed his belief that he developed liver disease as a result of nonprescription pain medications combined with a family history of liver disease.

Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell, Madison County head football coach Mike Coe and Alison Posey of ABC 27 in Tallahassee were among those who remembered Hayes and expressed condolences Tuesday:

Mike Norvell @Coach_Norvell

Thoughts and prayer for the family and friends of Geno Hayes. He lived his life as a tremendous Seminole who impacted so many throughout his journey on and off the field. His legacy will live on. #RIP #NoleFamily

Coach Coe @ZacBrayLex

RIP buddy. Tell your kids you love them and pray for them always. https://t.co/nbIsIvLAPy

Alison Posey @AlisonPosey14

Seeing people die that are my age just doesn't make sense -- there's so much life to live! I met Geno Hayes one time, at a camp he hosted in Madison. He was kind, and a great interview. My thoughts are with the many, many people that loved him. Don't ever take a day for granted❤️

After playing sparingly as a freshman at Florida State, Hayes broke out during his sophomore and junior campaigns. During those two seasons, he combined to record 82 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and two interceptions.

The highlight of Hayes' collegiate career was a pick-six of then-Boston College and current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in 2007, sealing the Seminoles' upset win over the No. 2-ranked Eagles.

Hayes was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL draft and went on to spend seven years in the NFL with the Bucs, Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Greenville, Florida, native appeared in 101 career regular-season games, starting 70. For his NFL career, Hayes recorded 401 tackles, 10 sacks and six interceptions.