Worth Reading: “Bullet” Bob Hayes, 2009 Hall of Fame InducteeAugust 10, 2009
As a native Texas son you can probably guess which football team I claim, and as such, Saturday was a great day for me as Roger “The Dodger” Staubach finally welcomed Dallas Cowboy and NHL legend “Bullet” Bob Hayes into the NFL Football Hall of Fame. It’s nearly impossible to do credit to his accomplishments by writing his many impressive stats down but when you start with the fact that he held the title as ‘The World’s Fastest Man’ then you can perhaps imagine why you’ll quickly become impressed. His speed literally changed the way the game was played in the 60’s and while I didn’t come into the world until he had retired, I certainly did enough homework over the years to see how great a player he really was.
And as such, I’ve been looking forward to this day an awful long time (fans will know that it has not been without controversy, which delayed his induction for far too long). So, if you enjoy a little sports reading let Dallas Cowboys writer Rob Phillips explain why he was so worthy of the honor. Here’s an excerpt:
Bob Hayes’ speed revolutionized the way teams play defense in the National Football League.
That being said, Hayes’ Pro Football Hall of Fame induction should have been much swifter than his 30-year wait.
On Saturday, the late ‘Bullet’ finally got his Hall pass. He and the rest of the six-member 2009 class were formally enshrined at the annual induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio…
‘That’s what the Hall of Fame is about – having an impact – and a great player like Bob Hayes truly had an impact on the NFL,” said Roger Staubach, Hayes’ long-time quarterback and honorary presenter. ‘And he had a tremendous impact on the Dallas Cowboys.
‘Bob Hayes was really a decent, caring human being that had extraordinary skills…’
Other former Cowboys teammates, team owner Jerry Jones and members of Hayes’ family made the trip to honor his memory and legacy.
It’s a long legacy at that. Hayes helped the Cowboys win the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 1971. He played in another Super Bowl, the 1970 loss to Baltimore, and won five Eastern Conference titles and two NFC championships.
His list of individual football accomplishments also are many, and most exemplify the world-class speed that helped define his career:
- He entered the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 2001, a year before he died of kidney failure at age 59 following a battle with prostate cancer and liver ailments.
- His 71 career touchdown receptions remain a club record. He also ranks fourth in receiving yards (7,295) and seventh in catches (365).
- He averaged an astounding 20.0 yards per catch and 11.1 yards per punt return for his career.
- He scored a touchdown every 5.2 times he caught a pass.
But Hayes was a legendary athlete, not just a football player. He’s the only man ever to win both a Super Bowl and an Olympic gold medal, having captured two at the 1964 games in the 100 meters (world-record 10.0 seconds) and 4×100 meter relay (world-record 39.06 seconds).
The Cowboys drafted the ‘World’s Fastest Man’ in the seventh round in 1964. At Saturday’s induction, Staubach read a quote from Landry after Hayes caught a 40-yard touchdown pass early in his career:
‘Coach said, ‘Well we drafted him, he had 9.3 speed, having no idea about his football news. But gosh, he’ll be a great one before he’s done,’ Staubach said. ‘And Coach Landry was right.’
The Jacksonville, Fla., native indeed made an unprecedented switch from Florida A&M running back to track star to NFL star. Zone defenses were developed to counter Hayes’ blazing speed, but Staubach said what made him special was his ‘football sense.’
‘He understood routes and he had that speed,’ Staubach said. ‘And it was phenomenal.’
Three decades later, his bust will sit in Canton – an emblem of the impact he made on the entire sports landscape, not just the NFL’s.
‘I saw him at the Ring of Honor in Dallas (in 2001) and he was smiling,’ Staubach said. ‘He’s got a beautiful, wonderful smile. And I know he’s smiling now.’
Thanks for letting me indulge myself in some sports talk there for a moment and my congratulations again to the late Bob Hayes, and the family that survives him.