Transcript for NFL Players Go Undercover as Homeless Men
Next on our "Heat index" a pair of NFL players trying to make a difference. St. Louis ram Chris long and William Hayes went undercover to raise awareness about homelessness spending a night on the streets. Jesse is here with their story. Thanks, robin. After passing homeless people on their way to the stadium every day they decided to put themselves it their shoes going undercover for "Life on the streets" given makeup. Ole clothes and they went with just a few dollars in their pockets to see what it's really like to be homeless. They are superstars on the field. Players for the St. Louis rams. Now they have gone undercover to reveal another side of the city they play in. Excuse me, partner. Can you spare maybe 50 cents. Reporter: On ESPN's "Life on the streets" two NFL players making a remarkable decision to raise awareness for homelessness by experiencing it for themselves. That's me, Chris long, of the St. Louis rams and that's my teammate William Hayes. Reporter: With the help of the rams community outreach staff long and Hayes transform themselves heading out to the streets of St. Louis with no cell phones and a total of $8 in their pockets. Hey. Where did you all just come from? Reporter: Just walking down the treat in their disguises they are quickly questioned by police and outside the home of their Sunday games they beg for money. God bless you, man. Reporter: The begging for me was an eye-opening experience. I didn't get a dollar. Reporter: Finding a place to sleep. You're trespassing, man. Reporter: On their second try deciding to camp out in the back of this truck. It's Cold. I'm about to die right now. It was the worst night I've ever had in my life. Reporter: Rising early long and Hayes taking one last walk across town paying a visit to the man that ran them off the night before. We just wanted to apologize, man and just say hello. Reporter: His name is Marty. He lives in this abandoned building with many others like Nancy who hasn't seen her family in years. The building will be torn down soon. If I put you up for a month -- You guys, would that help you out? Long and Hayes generously deciding to make sure both Marty and Nancy have a place to stay for the next two months. What I do know more about now is the experience of being homeless and, you know, just what these people might feel for just a day. Reporter: Even though long and Hayes are NFL football players they quickly realized that life on the streets isn't safe. They originally planned to stay on the streets for 48 hours but they ended it after 24 hours because they were concerned that the homeless people they were interacting with might think that they were undercover police officers. Hey, Jesse, thank you. We want to join now as one of the players that we just saw going undercover on the streets, Chris long is good enough to be with us this morning. Hey, Chris, thank you so much. What was the most eye-opening experience for you in all this? Well, I think it was honestly I had a lot of expectations going in, but they were all blown out of the water. It was a human element of it for me I never felt so invisible. You know, that's something that while we could never gain the Truex experience of what it's like to be homeless in just 24 hours it was never supposed to be a challenge to see if we could tough it out. It was more about putting yourself in somebody's shoes for just a second and one of the things we were able to gain was that feeling of invisibility, you know, we were panhandling right in front of the Edward Jones building where we play football and not one person recognized us and there's a big picture of myself and a couple of other players right behind us on the dome. We sat outside the dome and an executive from our team walked by and didn't even recognize us, so that feeling of invisibility, you know, is just -- it really struck me and stayed with me and I kind of ask myself do I project that same invisibility on people that are displaced and homeless and, you know, I just kind of critiqued the way I go about things. We saw you transform yourself physically which is why people didn't recognize you but how did you prepare yourself mentally for this challenge? Well, for me, you know, it wasn't as much of a how do I psych myself up for something like this. It wasn't for me about trying to get through it. It was for me about trying to prepare myself to respect the situation that I'm walking into and be sensitive, you know, in mind and action, you know, beyond just the exercise, you know, into right now, being sensitive to that problem that so many people in America have that it's a reality for them and we were just stepping in trying to raise awareness. For us it wasn't for the longest time about having cameras follow us around. This was something we planned to do for a year to pair an experience with some of the money we donated as a defensive line for a couple of years now and, you know, when ESPN called us we were a little apprehensive but, you know, I think overall being able to raise the awareness that a platform like that brings will make it worth it and some of our apprehensions have kind of gone away seeing some of the reactions. Chris, you say you weren't there to prove you could tough it out. It seemed like a pretty tough night, 30 degrees. Well, it's cold and, you know, St. Louis gets very cold in the winter and a lot of cities in America get super cold in the winter and it made you think, you know, this is a cold night and we on purpose didn't have a lot to kind of cover up and I've been camping. I've gone out spent nights Jo out side in colder weather but, you know, you try to imagine and pair that cold and imagine that it's maybe zero degrees down there in downtown St. Louis and some of these people that aren't accessing some of the services and the shelters for whatever reason are stuck out in that cold, maybe they have children. You know, I'm a 270-pound man but you pair that cold with that feeling of insecurity that these people might have with that lack of safety that somebody has children with them or, you know, a woman who's far smaller than us, you know, that's a striking feeling. Just real quick, we saw how you helped both Marty and Nancy find temporary housing. Have you kept in touch? How are they? Yeah, we've kept in touch with them a little bit. We don't want to smother them with too many phone calls or bother them too much because, you know, you want help but some people are very prideful and I think Marty and Nancy were very nice to let us kind of help them out and so we call them and check in as of last week Marty was still working at the new job he found as a foreman and Nancy's accessing services I don't think she ever would have had we not run into each other so it was good to meet them. Hopefully they were lucky to meet us and, you know, we didn't assume that it was going to be a happy ending right away because it's so complicated, as you know, but we'll keep in touch with them and I think just given a little effort and hopefully this awareness gives us the opportunity for maybe people to set the wheels in motion for something good to happen. Bless you for bringing awareness. Thank you for being with us this morning. We certainly do appreciate it. You take care. And what he said is so true. Thank y'all. Thank you. How many times do you not make eye contact? Then for him to -- his picture to be there, people still didn't see him, educational.
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