Leo Hayden
No. 44, 32
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1948-06-02) June 2, 1948 (age 74)
Louisville, Kentucky
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school:Roosevelt (Dayton, Ohio)
College:Ohio State
NFL Draft:1971 / Round: 1 / Pick: 24
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career NFL statistics
Rushing attempts:8
Rushing yards:11
Rushing touchdowns:1
Receiving yards:17
Receiving touchdowns:0
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Leophus "Leo" Hayden, Sr. (born June 2, 1948, in Louisville, Kentucky) is a former National Football League running back who played from 1971 to 1973 for the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Cardinals. He attended Ohio State and was the Vikings first round draft pick in the 1971 NFL Draft.

As a rookie with the Vikings in 1971 Hayden played almost exclusively on special teams and did not have a single rushing attempt.[1] Hayden later acknowledged that his play was impacted by drug use, and he was cut by the Vikings after one season.[1] Hayden later said "I knew there were still people on the team I was better than, but I look back on those years of addiction that, because you’re a junkie, there’s no more vile person in the world than a junkie. The reason they call it dope is because it turns you into one.”[1] He signed with the Cardinals, and spent the 1972 and 1973 seasons with them, but his drug use got worse and he played little and was released after the 1973 season.[1] Hayden signed with the Chicago Fire of the World Football League in March 1974.[2] But during the Fire's training camp in June he was arrested on a bad check warrant.[3][4]

After his football career ended, Hayden founded the "National Center for Violence Interruption," a program designed to prevent urban violence. As of 2021, Hayden was director of the inmates re-entry program for New Orleans Parish Louisiana.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Tomasson, Chris (April 23, 1971). "A Vikings draft bust, drug addict and prison inmate, Leo Hayden turned his life around". Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  2. ^ "WFL dream built Fire under Origer". Miami Herald. March 5, 1974. p. 7-D. Retrieved 2022-09-03 – via newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "FBI arrests St. Louis' back". Cumberland News. June 13, 1974. p. 42. Retrieved 2022-09-03 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Hayden out on bond". Journal Herald. June 14, 1974. p. 18. Retrieved 2022-09-03 – via newspapers.com.