Great Bob Hayes Story

Speaking to my dad today he relayed a great story.

My dad, a solid sprinter in his day (49mid in the quarter, 22.4 on the 220 straight away on cinder track in high school) was at a meet in Madison Square Garden in 1961 or 62.

This is what my dad told me:

Hayes was at the meet to run the 60yd dash.

Charlie Greene from Nebraska (who took bronze in 68 in the 100m) walked up to Hayes before the race and said ’ I know you’re fast but you’ll have to break the world record today to beat me’

Hayes went on to run 6.0 or 6.1 and broke the world record.

sometime later I believe he was the first to go sub 6.0 for the 60yd.

Section: Pro Football


He brought Olympian speed to the NFL, and it changed the face of defensive football, but there were demons in life that he couldn’t outrun

They followed him into the NFL like rats following the Pied Piper. Olympic sprinters and hurdlers were handed a uniform and told to catch the ball and run away from people, just like Bob Hayes did.

Speed is what Hayes brought into the league in 1965, more speed than anyone had ever seen on a football field. And when the rest of the NFL saw how he stretched defenses and forced them to go to all sorts of zones to try to stop him, general managers pored over copies of Track & Field News and sent out their invites.

Olympic sprint champ Jimmy Hines got a shot in Miami. John Carlos and Tommie Smith washed out with the Eagles and the Bengals, respectively, after the Mexico City Games. And Harvey Nairn, an NAIA hurdles champ, spent time with the Jets. (The raw speed that Nairn flashed on one play in an exhibition game–he blew by Lions cornerback Lem Barney…and then dropped a pass–was enough to earn him paychecks for two years as a member of the Jets’ taxi squad.) Everyone wanted another Bob Hayes, the only man ever to win an individual Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring, but there has never been another one.

It is October 1964, and the Olympic Games are under way in Tokyo. Hayes, still in the first flush of victory after winning the 100-meter final in world-record-tying time (10.0), has just been ushered into a small room where athletes await the medals ceremony. He did a little hop-step across the room, stopped, put his hands on his temples, looked upward and let out a big surge of emotion: “Ooooh! Ooooh!” He did this for five minutes or so before being called out to get his medal. I can’t remember ever seeing such pure joy in a human being.

Six days later Hayes lined up to run the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay. The American team was in fifth when he got the baton, a few yards behind the pack, but Hayes pulled even with 30 meters to go, shifted into overdrive and shot ahead of everyone with an explosive burst that made the greatest sprinters in the world seem sluggish. There are no official split times for relay races that short, but writers from Track & Field News timed his leg at 8.6 on one watch, 8.8 on another. Yes, relay times in the 100 are faster because of the running start, but an 8.8 over 100 meters is still the equivalent of roughly 7.9 for 100 yards, and God knows what for a football 40. No one had ever seen such a display of speed. No one is likely to see one again.

Back in Dallas the Cowboys were licking their chops. In 1963 they had drafted him in the seventh round as a future choice, used for players who still had college eligibility. All that speed would soon be theirs.

You never really know what misery might be in store for even the most gifted athlete. Hayes went on to a distinguished 11-year career in the NFL, averaging 20 yards per catch, scoring 71 touchdowns, making three Pro Bowl appearances and helping Dallas win its first Super Bowl in 1972, but drug and alcohol problems kept him out of the Hall of Fame. He died last week of complications from prostate cancer, and heart and kidney ailments, at the age of 59.

Hayes differed from the sprinters who would follow him into and out of the NFL, because he was not merely a sprinter who happened to play football. He was, as he liked to put it, “a football player first, then a runner.” There were lots of fast guys on Jake Gaither’s Florida A&M squad, and he’d shuffle them in and out, align them in different formations. Hayes was listed as a halfback, but he’d line up all over the place–on the wing, in the slot, wherever he was needed.

People have said that his college career was only so-so, but he was a starter at wide receiver in the 1965 College All-Star Game, and the quarterback who started that game for his team, Roger Staubach, would, in the years that followed, go on to launch many deep strikes to Hayes for the Cowboys.

Hayes began to make his mark on the NFL as soon as he arrived: He led the league with 21.8 yards per catch in his rookie season, and he sustained that career average of 20 yards per reception, a figure few players even approach nowadays for a single season. The zone defense had existed in the NFL before his arrival, but it was crude by today’s standards, and Hayes could destroy that kind of coverage the same way he did man-to-man alignments. So coaches came up with a double zone to try to control him. A cornerback would play him tight as he came off the line–in those days defenders could do anything they wanted to a receiver, except grab and hold–and another defensive back would pick him up deep. Or coaches would assign the deepest defensive back, usually the free safety, to make sure he stayed behind Hayes, which opened up vast areas underneath. No other player caused that kind of strategic overhaul of the defensive game.

That alone should have earned Hayes a spot in Canton, but in 1979, two years before he became eligible for enshrinement, he was sentenced to five years in prison for selling narcotics; he was paroled after serving 10 months. His alcohol and drug problems were a shock to those who knew him. He was a decent, forthright person with…well, major problems. But that was enough to keep him out of Canton, even though, according to the guidelines, a candidate should be judged solely on the basis of his performance on the field.

By the 1990s he was no longer a modern Hall of Fame candidate. He had been relegated to the Seniors pool, which can yield only one candidate a year and sometimes produces none.

“The situation with Bob Hayes and the Hall of Fame is one of the most tragic stories I’ve ever been associated with during my time in professional football,” said Tex Schramm, the Cowboys’ former president and general manager. But Schramm was a one-man selection committee for the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, and he never admitted Hayes. Jerry Jones, the team’s owner since 1989, didn’t admit Hayes until last year.

I would run into Hayes during the hard times that followed his stretch in prison. He was saddened by how his life had turned out, but not bitter–he was the same modest person he’d always been, with the same winning smile. And when I saw that smile, I’d always remember him as he was on that October day in 1964, in that little room in Tokyo, enjoying the most wonderful moment of his life.
HALL Worthy

The Seniors pool of potential Hall of Famers includes many players who deserve to be inducted, according to SI’s Paul Zimmerman. Here are his top five.

  1. BOB HAYES, Cowboys, 1965-74; Niners, '75. His speed forced defenses to radically change pass-coverage schemes.
  2. CLIFF HARRIS, Cowboys, 1970-79. Age 53. The first and the best of the killer free safeties.
  3. DAVE ROBINSON, Packers, 1963-72; Redskins, '72-74. Age 61. First of the dominant size-and-speed outside linebackers.
  4. RICH (TOMBSTONE) JACKSON, Broncos, 1966-72; Browns, '72. Age 61. Career was cut short by injury, but he was one of the great pass rushers of all time.
  5. TOMMY DAVIS, 49ers, 1959-69. Age 67. Has the second-best career punting average in NFL history.

Hayes, Robert Lee (Bullet Bob)
Wide Receiver 5-11, 185
Florida A&M
HS: Matthew W. Gilbert [Jacksonville, FL]
Born: 12 / 20 / 1942, Jacksonville, FL
Died: 9 / 18 / 2002, Jacksonville, FL (59)
1965-1974 Dallas Cowboys
1975 San Francisco 49ers

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Jan. 31, 2009 Selected as a future pick by Cowboys, seventh round, 1964 NFL Draft. . .Also drafted as future choice by Denver (AFL)…Won a pair of gold medals in the 1964 Olympic Games earning him the title “World’s Fastest Human”. …Four times was named first- or second-team All-NFL. . … Three times led the Cowboys in receptions. . . Career stats include 7,414 receiving yards and 71 TDs.

When Bob Hayes arrived on the pro football scene in 1965, he had already earned athletic stardom having won a pair of gold medals in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. His medal-winning performance in the 100 meters competition earned him the title “World’s Fastest Human.” But for the Dallas Cowboys, the team that drafted him in the seventh round of the 1964 NFL Draft, the question lingered, “could a track man succeed in a contact sport like pro football?” The answer came quickly as the rookie’s 46 receptions for 1,003 yards led all Cowboys receivers. Hayes demonstrated time and again that he possessed tremendous football skills and instincts that helped him to develop into a terrific NFL wide receiver. Still, his world class speed was a major factor in his and the Cowboys offensive successes. “Bullet Bob” terrorized defensive backs and demanded the kind of deep double coverage rarely seen in the NFL at that time. It is often said that the bump and run defense was developed in an attempt to slow down the former Florida A&M running back. “I know one thing, and I played with him,” commented Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka, “he changed the game. He made defenses and defensive coordinators work hard to figure out what you had to do to stop him.” Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach knew firsthand the value of the speedy receiver. “He can explode and make things happen,” he offered. “As long as Bobby is in the lineup the other team has to make adjustments it doesn’t normally make.”

St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson played against Hayes on a number of occasions. He observed that the difference between Hayes and other track men turned football players was that he had the ability to use his speed “in a football sense,” rather than just trying to run fast as he could. “He had several speeds, all of them fast,” explained Wilson. “But defensive backs had to figure out which one he was using and which one he was going to use.” Four times Hayes was named first- or second-team All-NFL. Three times he led the Cowboys in receptions, including back-to-back titles in 1965-66 when he caught a total of 110 passes for more than 2,200 yards and 25 touchdowns. For his 11-year career, Hayes accumulated 7,414 yards and 71 touchdowns. His 71 career touchdown receptions remain a Cowboys’ club record.

Where do you get all this info!!!(lol) Thanks for posting it.

Anyhow, as far as Bob Hays being the only man to win an individual medal at the Olympics and a super bowl ring; well, if another athleate could have done it my pick would have been Deion Sanders. According to this chart he ran a 10.26.

Anyhow, it’s all about money and contracts at this point which is why guys don’t even consider running track once they get NFL bound; I have even heard some NFL contracts stipulate you can’t partake in hazardous hobbies in your private life and who knows, track may be listed as one of them.

Wow! Your pops was fast back in 68. This reminds me of even Charlie Francis himself clocking a 10.1 (if I’m not mistaken) back in the stone age. (lol) J/k!!!

Maybe my words were misleading. My dad clocked those times sometime around 1961/62 during his final years in high school.

Deion? I like him to but there is no way in hell 10.2 would have even gotten him to the olympics much less a medal. Now if you had said darrel green I would have agreed with you. (10.08) according to your chart… Even willie gault would have had a better chance. In fact he would have medal ed if the us didnt boycott

Yea, I know about Darrel Green. As far as neon Deion well if he TRAINED for a 100 I’m very confident he could have went below 10.2.

BTW, I believe he ran that time when he was in collage.

Even this commentator for fox says if Deion TRAINED for the 100 he could have been the fastest man in the world.(lol)