St. Louis Rams defensive ends William Hayes and Chris Long decided to spend some time as homeless men on the streets of the city they call home as players.
Given $4 for spending money and entering the streets with an undercover security guard in tow, these two millionaires got the homeless experience.
The idea, which was concocted by Hayes, an advocate of the homeless, was meant to raise awareness about the plight of over 500,000 people living on the streets in the United States. Given precautions and working with the Rams community outreach program, these two best friends uncovered some of the realities of living on the streets in St. Louis.
One of the most poignant aspects of the experience was when Long and Hayes decided to panhandle outside of the Edward Jones Dome, the home of their St. Louis Rams. Dressed in second-hand clothes and utilizing makeup to alter their experience, the two defensive ends were not recognized. And the treatment they received as “homeless men” couldn’t have been any different from how they are perceived in their real lives. In one specific situation, Hayes and Long were stopped by a police officer for walking down the street. It seems they were simply stopped for being homeless.
ESPN ran a seven-minute feature on the story, which shows in detail the experiences of the two men as they went undercover.
Long also decided to take to Twitter to share his experience.
Long later explained that they didn’t necessarily plan for hidden cameras to follow them around, but ESPN approached them a few days before they took to the streets.
For Long and Hayes, it was all about raising awareness.
However, it appears the experience had a life-altering outcome on Long, who had been on the receiving end of many discussions from Hayes regarding the plight of the homeless in the past.
Homelessness in American is that sad, untold story. We walk by those less fortunate than us on a consistent basis without giving them a second thought. And in reality, raising awareness is the first step.
We applaud Long and Hayes for taking time out of their offseason to head this project. It’s some amazing stuff.
Photo: ESPN screen cap