Former Florida State, NFL linebacker Geno Hayes dies at 33

Ex-Seminoles star had been battling liver disease, recently moved to hospice care
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes before game in 2014
Posted at 8:45 AM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 14:39:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Former Florida State and NFL linebacker Geno Hayes died of liver disease Monday, his former coach told the Tallahassee Democrat. He was 33.

Frankie Carroll, who coached Hayes in high school, told the newspaper he was informed of his former player's death by Hayes' family.

Hayes was a standout for the Seminoles under legendary former coach Bobby Bowden from 2005-07. He was named first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference after a junior season in which he recorded 80 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and five sacks before leaving school early for the NFL Draft.

Florida State Seminoles linebacker Geno Hayes tackles Colorado Buffaloes fullback Samson Jagoras in 2007
Colorado fullback Samson Jagoras is tackled, after pulling in a screen pass, by Florida State linebacker Geno Hayes in the first quarter of a game Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007, in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007.

The playmaker is probably best remembered by Florida State fans when he intercepted quarterback Matt Ryan and returned the football 38 yards for a touchdown in an upset-clinching win at No. 2 Boston College in 2007.

A sixth-round pick of Tampa Bay in 2008, Hayes spent four seasons with the Buccaneers and signed with the Chicago Bears in 2012. He later signed a two-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Geno Hayes blocks Carolina Panthers punter kick in 2008
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Geno Hayes blocks a punt by Carolina Panthers punter Jason Baker during the first quarter of a game Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008, in Tampa, Fla. Hayes returned the blocked punt for a touchdown.

Hayes, who hasn't played football since 2014, told ESPN earlier this month that he's been battling liver disease for two years and was awaiting a transplant. He was moved to hospice care in the days before his death.

A father of two children, ages 13 and 8, Hayes finished his NFL career with 401 tackles, 10 sacks, six forced fumbles, six interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.