ST. LOUIS — After playing in the NFL for 12 years and coaching for another 16 with the Cincinnati Bengals, Jonathan Hayes was thrilled to land his first head coaching job for the St. Louis BattleHawks.
“I really loved being a part of St. Louis. They took us in, made us their own,” Hayes said.
But less than one year after Hayes was awarded the job, it was taken away from him due to the coronavirus. The XFL folded, firing all employees and suspending all operations.
On Monday, the XFL filed for bankruptcy.
“To be honest with you, I had just done a write up on some of the things we’d like to work on and improve,” Hayes said already looking ahead to 2021.
He said the news that the XFL was suspending operations came out of nowhere. He expected everyone to be furloughed due to COVID-19, but not fired. Still, he understands why it had to happen and said he’s thankful the XFL extended their benefits through April and paid them up until the beginning of the month.
“I’m not going to sit here knock the guy, I mean he gave me my first opportunity to be a head coach, so I’m very grateful to Oliver Luck and Vince McMahon,” Hayes said.
Away from the daily grind of being a professional coach, Hayes said he already has another job he's focusing on: being a dad.
“I have two young teenage boys, working out with them and my daughter, who’s getting ready to go off to play basketball at the University of Cincinnati. We were spending good time there,” he said.
In his first season as head coach and general manager, Hayes had the opportunity to build his team and staff from the ground up was something he wants to do again in the future.
“Those are the type of things I’d like to continue to do,” Hayes said.
If not, Hayes joked and said he could become a journalist. In the meantime, he said this time away from the game has taught him a valuable life lesson everyone could benefit from.
“Time, time stands still for no person, so you better make sure all the time you do spend with your family, make sure it’s good quality time,” he said.