An athlete’s legacy is often remembered by actions on the field of play.
An interception return for a touchdown. A last-second 3-pointer that wins a game. Striking out a batter with the bases loaded and two outs to protect a one-run lead.
Micah Hyde was one of those athletes. He was a four-year football letterman at Iowa, playing for Coach Kirk Ferentz from 2009 to 2012
He was a first-team all-Big Ten selection as a senior in 2012, and was named the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year.
Hyde made a lot of big plays over those four seasons, including a couple of memorable touchdowns in 2010. The first covered 66 yards against Michigan State, when teammate Tyler Sash made an interception and flipped it to Hyde. The other came in the 2010 Insight Bowl. Iowa trailed Missouri late in the fourth quarter, 24-20, when Hyde picked off Blaine Gabbert and returned it 72 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 5:32 remaining.
A fifth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2013, Hyde played there for four seasons before finding a new home in Buffalo. There, he made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and has started every game he’s played in over the past five seasons.
Micah Hyde cemented his legacy in Buffalo on Sunday. And it had nothing to do with his exploits on the football field. Hyde opened his heart in the wake of an unthinkable tragedy that was fueled with hate and racism.
An 18-year-old man drove to Buffalo Saturday, stopped at a Tops Friendly Markets located in a predominately Black neighborhood and murdered 10 people with an assault rifle. Police called it an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Micah Hyde’s Charity Softball Game at Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo was scheduled the day after the shootings. Hyde contemplated calling off the event, but ultimately decided to go ahead with it as planned.
“If we stopped and canceled everything because of hate, we wouldn’t move forward,” Hyde said. “There’s a lot of it, and I think all you can do is just, like I said, spread the love and love one another.”
What a profound statement by a proud man.
“I still can’t believe it,” Hyde added. “But when there’s hate in the world, you kind of erase it with love, and coming out here (Sunday) and showing the community love and love to the youth, love to the community, love the foundation, I guess that’s the way to combat it.”
More than 10,000 fans attended the softball game, which served as a benefit for Micah’s I’MagINe For Youth Foundation.
Before the game, sponsors of the event donated $200,000 to the foundation. Hyde took things a step further. He announced a portion of the game’s proceeds would be donated to the families of the 10 people who were killed. That included money collected from a silent auction.
Hyde started his foundation shortly after he arrived in Buffalo. The first charity softball event drew less than 2,000 people. It’s grown leaps and bounds since then, which shows the spirit of the city and a passion for the Buffalo Bills and popular players like Hyde.
“You can go anywhere in this nation, and I don’t think you’ll find a better community than Buffalo, and I honestly mean that,” Micah told the Buffalo News. “This place is home. I grew up here, became a man here, had kids here, was married living here, I had my first home here. This place is home to me and I cherish this place a lot. To see this, it means a lot to me from the bottom of my heart.”
Hyde grew up in Fostoria, Ohio. His best friend in grade school was Aaron Craft, whose family would move to Findlay, Ohio, when he was in sixth grade. Craft would later become a standout basketball player at Ohio State.
After Hyde’s rookie NFL season, he sat in the front row at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio to watch a 2014 matchup between Craft’s Buckeyes and Hyde’s alma mater. The 20th-ranked Hawkeyes upset No. 3 Ohio State, 84-74. Hyde stood and high-fived some of the Hawkeyes as they left the court.
Buffalo may be Micah’s home now, but Iowa City also played an important role in his life. A two-star recruit who was a dual-option quarterback at Fostoria High School, Hyde played both cornerback and safety for the Hawkeyes. He is just one in a long line of players who proved to have the right stuff a lot of other recruiters didn’t see.
Ferentz, heading into his 24th season as Iowa’s head coach, likes to talk about good stories in his program. He’s seen a lot of those good stories unfold. Stories like Micah Hyde. And I bet Hyde’s sharing, caring heart last weekend in Buffalo made his old coach proud.