Getting to know: Adam Hayward

ASHBURN, Va. -- Each week I'll feature a different Washington Redskins player, talking about topics other than football, what they've overcome in life and telling you one or two things you might not have realized about them.

Player: Adam Hayward

Position: Linebacker

College: Portland State

Year in NFL: 8th

Best season: He recorded a career-best 32 combined tackles in 2011, starting two games for Tampa Bay and appearing in all 16.

Person you most admire: My mother (Pauline). Before she died she was a very strong woman in general, and the things she had to go through showing strength and perseverance to get through stuff keeps me going in football. She passed away on August 6, 2004 from cancer. Every time I play I go to the 50 and kneel and talk to her and get a little bit of the courage she had.

Biggest obstacle you’ve overcome: Losing my mother. I quit football for a year in college. I got away from it and didn’t care for it, but I got back to what I was good at.

Why he returned: It was her, really just knowing she was my biggest fan. When I played, I played for her. I play for my mother and I play for God. If I can get back in that, I can do something special.

Favorite football moment: My favorite moment was when I scored a touchdown off special teams in Tampa. My buddy Dekoda Watson blocked a punt and I picked it up and scored. That was my first touchdown. It was amazing. We were both in shock, like, did that really happen? We were both in the doghouse for roughing the punter a couple games before that. He blocked it and I picked it up and scored. That brought us out of the doghouse.

Most overrated part of being a pro athlete: A lot of people don’t realize how much studying and brains go into this. Everyone thinks you just play football. I feel like I’m in school again. People don’t realize that, to think you just go play is overrated. You have smart guys you’re going against.

Most underrated: That would also be the most underrated.

Why he’s good on special teams: My mindset is that I know it’s very important. From the early stage of my career I learned it’s just as important as offense and defense. I’ve taken that with me. It drives me, like I can be really good at this. Even if it’s the only thing I do, I can help the team win.

What did you dream of being as a kid: A professional football player. At 6, I loved the game, the fact that you could go hit people and not get in trouble. My parents directed me in that direction. I learned so much from people being around the team and just respect and things along those lines. From a young age I was told several times by teachers you won’t make it, you won’t be a pro player. In high school they’d say, "Adam, you’re not getting into college. You don’t do this, you won’t do that." It’s a great feeling. I’ve gone back to my high school and sat down with my old teachers and they’re like, "I can’t believe you did it." I’m like, "I told you I was going to do it."

What’s something people don’t realize about you: I’m actually a big-time hunter. I love the outdoors. I own a bunch of cattle. I own a cattle ranch in Florida. I have 100 head of cattle, a mix. I raise them for beef cattle. I do cook wild game, deer, wild hogs and ducks. My wife thinks everything I cook is good.

One topic that riles you up: There’s definitely a topic and that’s Christianity, being a Christian and the things I believe. It definitely fires me up, but at the same time teaches me to be humble and love people.