In an interview with ABC News, both players mentioned that one of the worst parts about the experience was the fact that they felt entirely invisible to the rest of the world. Even when they were asking for money outside of the stadium where they play football, in front of giant billboards with their faces on them, people still didn’t even recognize them because they were intentionally trying to ignore people who they thought were homeless.
They also noticed that as soon as they were “homeless” they were harassed by police constantly.
Throughout their travels while they were undercover, Long and Hayes met a homeless couple that was living in an abandoned warehouse that was soon to be torn down. The NFL players offered their help, and paid for them to stay in a hotel for 2 months while they found a new place to live.
After the experience, Long posted the following Tweets explaining what he learned and how he felt.
“William Hayes has been an unbelievable presence in our community and the cause that he’s really given most of his time to is homelessness.
“We were supposed to stay in a shelter after our first night on the streets before our cover was blown. …
“One thing that blew me away is that there are so many women like Nancy living on the streets alone. She was lucky to find Marty. …
“I think raising awareness is important on a lot of levels but the thing I took away was the human element of the problem.
“Awareness can’t fix everything, and just 2 days and a night on the street didn’t give us any answers. It did however give us perspective.
“I hope that I can give more of my time, energy and resources to the cause in the future. William has been a real champ the last few years.
“I do regret not being able to stay out longer. A stay in one of St Louis’ shelters would have been very valuable. We were found out day 2. …
“One thing: I need to find the guy that gave me five bucks!!!! I felt terrible and blown away by his kindness at the same time!”
This type of compassion is exactly what we need more of in this world, especially from people who are in the spotlight, and have a captive audience.
John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.