Casey Hayward is the king of interceptions. He capped off the 2016 season as the NFL's Interception Leader with seven interceptions.
During the season as Pro Bowl voting was taking place, Casey Hayward said his dream was to not only play in the all-star showcase, but also be named to the AP All-Pro Team. That recognition would mean the world to him in a season he dedicated to his mother, who passed away one month before the start of training camp.
"I dedicated this whole season to her," he said after officially making the Pro Bowl. "I've been playing this whole season for her, so to get this accomplishment is for her. Nobody really knew what I went through, so for this to happen, I give all the glory to God. My mom rallied me to the games growing up. To be where I am now, given all her hard work for me and my family, this means the world to me. She was excited when I became a Charger, but she passed in July right before training camp started."
Hayward's dream became reality as the cornerback was named as a Second-Team All-Pro selection on Friday. After learning he'd made the team, the cornerback said a prayer.
"I literally just prayed and told God, 'thank you,'" he said seconds after learning of the honor. "This is a blessing. Not many people can be All-Pro. There were only five corners. No alternates; nothing. To be in that elite group this year is a blessing. I can put this on my bio. No one can ever take this away from me."
Dedicating the season in his mother's honor, Hayward led the NFL with seven interceptions and tied for third with 20 passes defensed. He was the steady leader in a secondary ravaged by injuries, emerging as a rock who constantly shut down the opposition's number one receiver.
Still, Hayward would trade in his personal success to be playing in the postseason this weekend. However, he won't let the Chargers' struggles take away from how meaningful the personal accolades are to him in what has been an emotional year.
"In life, throughout the year you are going to have ups and downs. It's the same in football. You have to embrace the moment. There are some things you can't control in life, but I can control my play. I'm focused on helping the team out in the best way possible. The season didn't go as planned, but there is always next year. Hopefully I can go out and play at a high level again next year. I can't say I'm going to get seven interceptions again because that is hard to do. But I can go out there, play really well and help the team get more wins. That's my goal."