Bob Hayes – Pro Football Hall of Fame

 

Distinguishing marks:

Scored one touchdown every 5.2 times he caught the ball.

Earned 18 touchdowns of 50 yards or more.

Led NFL in punt returns in 1968. (20.8 yard average) including a 90 yard touchdown.

Selected for three Pro Bowls.

Helped Cowboys win 3 Eastern Conference titles, 2 NFC Titles, and Super Bowl VI.

Inducted in to the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001.

 

Bob Hayes Jr. pays tribute to the father ‘who had a big heart’

From the Dallas Morning News

  

Bob Hayes did not live to see this glorious night, when at last he will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But when the ceremony commences in Canton, Ohio, the Dallas Cowboys’ transcendent “Bullet” will be there in more than spirit. His presence will be tangible.

 

Onstage will be 32-year-old Garland resident Bob Hayes Jr., bearing his father’s name, facial features, tone of voice and eternal gratitude.”I wish he was standing right next to me, so I can give him a hug and kiss and tell him how proud I am of him,” Bob Jr. says. “For the whole Hayes family, it’s going to be very emotional. This is something he was supposed to be part of.”

Bob Hayes Sr., the Cowboys receiver (1965-74) and two-time gold medalist in the 1964 Olympics, died of kidney failure at age 59.

On that Sept. 18, 2002 night, gazing up but unable to speak from his Jacksonville, Fla., hospital bed, the last person Bullet saw was Bob Jr. – the youngest of his five children and only son.

That is just one reason why tonight will be especially personal and painful and yet wonderful for the quiet 1997 Hillcrest graduate who still sometimes refers to “Dad” in present tense.

And why it was so important to most of theHayes family that Bob Jr. represent them tonight – not Lucille Hester. She is the woman who, when Bob Sr. was voted into the Hall on Jan. 31, read a thank-you letter purportedly from Bob Sr. at the news conference.

A firestorm ensued, with Hayes family members angrily disputing the letter’s authenticity as well as Hester’s claim that she is Bob Sr.’s half-sister.

Since the initial furor, the one thing all parties agreed upon was that Bob Sr.’s Hall of Fame induction should and will be a celebration of his life and career. Their hope is that it represents something long-overdue.

“Just him being inducted is really closure for him and the family,” Bob Jr. says. “He felt a little like an outcast, because he felt like he changed the way the game is played, but that a lot of people forgot what he did.

“I feel like when my dad gets inducted, he’s going to get his wings, and he’s going to go to heaven.”

‘He touched hearts’ 

It also is fitting, family members say, that Roger Staubach will serve as Bob Sr.’s presenter tonight.

Although he didn’t become the Cowboys’ starting quarterback until the latter half of Hayes’ career, family members say Staubach served a supportive role during Bob Sr.’s sometimes-troubled post-football life.

Bob Jr. was born in 1977, two years after his father’s final NFL season, with the San Francisco 49ers. In 1979, Hayes was convicted of drug-trafficking and served 10 months in prison.

Hayes entered drug rehab on three occasions and divorced Bob Jr.’s mother, Janice, when the son was about 8.

“A lot of people have their definition of what kind of person he is,” Bob Jr. says. “But I feel like they’re wrong because they didn’t really know him. His family and friends love him. He touched many hearts in plenty of people’s lives.”

This year, rather than lengthy live speeches, each of the six Hall of Fame inductees mostly will be presented in video form.

An NFL Films crew came to Bob Jr.’s home in June. While Staubach’s and other interviews largely will spotlight the teammate who amassed a Cowboys’ record 71 touchdowns and averaged 20 yards per reception, Bob Jr.’s will focus on the man off the field.

And as the video plays for fans in Canton and TV viewers across the country, many will be thunderstruck by the resemblance of father and son.

“Looks just like his dad, walks like him, talks like him,” says Ted McIntosh, Bob Sr.’s longtime business manager and Bob Jr.’s godfather. “When you sit and talk to him, when he’s in a comfortable environment, it’s just like talking to Bob.”

How similar? When Granbury artist Scott Myers sculpted Hayes’ Hall of Fame bust, he used Bob Jr. as a stand-in model.

Hayes and fellow 2009 inductee Randall McDaniel are the sixth and seventh busts Myers has sculpted for the Hall. Most inductees and their families, Myers says, prefer a bust that resembles the player’s likeness toward the end of his career.

“But in the Hayes family’s case, they wanted him to be more youthful, closer to the time he won his Olympic medals. Bob Hayes Jr. looks about 25. It was a nice mix.

“It was a matter of seeing the subtle differences. But there’s a striking similarity between the son and the final sculpture.”

 

Father-son bond 

After his parents’ divorce, Dallas-born little Bob savored weekends in his father’s Galleria-area home, with school friends often tagging along for sleepovers.

He vividly recalls the father-son fishing trips to Lake Ray Hubbard, movies and Rangers games. They shared more buckets of Buffalo wings with bleu cheese than the son can count.

“He always put me first,” Bob Jr. says. “My father had a big heart. Some people think about themselves and don’t think of others, but he always thought of others.

“Sometimes we would drive to South Dallas. He’d see a homeless man, walking down the street, pushing a shopping cart. He’d give him $100. He did that a lot.”

Bob Jr. grew to 6-2, 170 pounds. Though he had a basketball build, he played wide receiver and cornerback at Hillcrest and ran the 200 and 400 in track. He says he was on the football team his sophomore and junior year, although his name never appeared in his hometown paper. He says he loved to hit people in football, but hated the summer heat, so he quit before his senior season.

“There was always pressure because a lot of people looked at how famous my dad was, what kind of athlete he was and figured I was going to be the same,” he says. “I just told people that even though we had the same names, we were really two different people.”

By then, Bob Sr. had moved back to his hometown of Jacksonville. Bob Jr. attended Richland College for a couple of years, taking computer courses. As Bob Sr.’s prostate cancer and kidney and liver ailments worsened, he required frequent hospitalization.

Each time, Bob Jr. traveled to Florida, sleeping weeks at a time in his father’s hospital room, not knowing if it would be their last time together.

On the final visit, Bullet Bob was taken off the respirator, leaving him alert enough to see and gesture and listen, but his throat too swollen for him to speak.

“I shared a little moment with him before he passed, about how much he meant to me and how much I loved him. He tried to tell me something. I feel like he was going to tell me he loved me.

“Even though it’s been seven years now, I still miss him every day,” adds Bob Jr., who for the past five years has worked for a Dallas-area packaging company. “With this Hall of Fame thing coming up, I’ve thought about him even more because this is really for him; it’s not for me.”

Yes, but for Hayes family members and one in particular, it’s a chance for closure, a happier, even celebratory goodbye. Perhaps it is fitting that when the bust is unveiled, it will represent part father, part son.

 

 
Courtesy photo

Bob Hayes Jr. and his mother, Janice Hayes-Mohl, pose with the bust of Bob Hayes, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame today.

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