William Hayes Named Team's Walter Payton Man of the Year Representative

Posted Jan 14, 2014

Hayes has evolved into a locker room leader for the Rams and ignited a passion in many of his teammates to join him in his effort to create a domino effect of good work that collectively can have a significant impact on others.

Realistically, St. Louis Rams defensive end William Hayes knows he cannot single handedly change the world but in his words, “I want to try to at least help change the world of some people so they can hopefully be inspired to do the same.”  With that pay it forward mentality, William has evolved into a locker room leader for the Rams and ignited a passion in many of his teammates to join him in his effort to create a domino effect of good work that collectively can have a significant impact on others.

William, who grew up with very little, feels an obligation to give back for all that he has received. This fall for the second year he joined the team for their annual Thanksgiving tradition of partnering with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis to hand out turkeys and accompanying holiday ingredients at three area distribution centers. For the second year, William recruited the entire defensive line to go a step further and make home deliveries to elderly and those who couldn’t make it to the distribution centers. Together they hand delivered 15,000 pounds of food to those who were homebound.

He also helps lead the defensive line’s efforts with the “Sack Homelessness” program benefiting the St. Patrick Center. For every sack made during the season, William and each defensive lineman as well as assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and defensive line coach Mike Waufle contribute $1,000 to St. Patrick Center. Proceeds from the program generate funds for individuals and families struggling to overcome homelessness.

Always wanting to do more, this summer William decided to expand on the St. Patrick Center partnership and host a paintball fundraiser to fund a Back-to-School effort to outfit children with clothes and provide them with personal hygiene products and new school supplies.  Again, William recruited his teammates to join in the effort so that less-fortunate families could begin their school year on the right foot.

This holiday season, William along with teammates Chris Long and Robert Quinn, treated 40 Big and Little matches from Big Brothers Big Sisters to a shopping spree, providing each child with a $350 gift card The teammates spent the evening meeting with the kids, first enjoying a pizza party at Pi Pizzeria and then helping the kids select their purchases at Walmart.

William also purchased 50 tickets to each Rams home game this season and donated the tickets to people in St. Louis who normally wouldn’t have the chance to see an NFL game.

But what is maybe most commendable about William is the investment he is making in the community where he was raised, High Point, North Carolina. Coming from very humble beginnings, William credits his hard work and perseverance for getting him where he is today. Now in his more fortunate position, he works to encourage youth in his hometown to strive for more. Partnering with High Point Community Against Violence, William created the Right Track program, which works with juvenile offenders to ensure they don’t continue down the wrong path in life. Through Right Track, William creates individualized plans for first-time offenders that encourage positive life changes. He also speaks to students at at-risk schools and challenges them to set their goals high. Though Right Track is in its infancy, William already has plans to take the program national so that no child, just because of economic circumstances, is denied the opportunity to succeed.

"William has a passion and vision that sets him apart," says Molly Higgins, Rams' vice president of corporate communications/civic affairs. "What's incredibly impressive about William is that he's not only doing his part to make a difference, he's also inspiring others to join him in his effort. We are proud to have him representing the Rams as our Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.”

About the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is unique among NFL honors. It is the only NFL award that recognizes a player for his community service activities as well as his excellence on the field. Renamed in 1999 after the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has been awarded annually since 1970.

The overall NFL winner is chosen from a list comprised of one nominee from each team. The Man of the Year is selected by an elite panel of judges, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, Connie Payton (wife of the late Walter Payton) and former players Frank Gifford, Jack Kemp, Anthony Munoz and the previous year’s award winner. The NFL Man of the Year’s designated charity receives a $20,000 donation in his name. Charities selected by the other 31 team finalists each receive a $1,000 donation.