Note: Roger Staubach, who played with Bob Hayes in Dallas from 1969 to 1974, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Hayes will posthumously join his former quarterback in Canton on Aug. 8.
I first met Bob Hayes in 1965. We came out of college together and played in the College All-Star Game against the Cleveland Browns in 1965.
I was in the game with other legends such as Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus and my future teammate, Bob Hayes. He was the fastest player on the practice field. We had great receivers there with Fred Biletnikoff and Roy Jefferson, but Hayes was amazing.
I was in the Navy, and I watched Bob and Cowboys QB Don Meredith ripping up the NFL while I served as an ensign after graduating from the academy. When I joined the team in 1969, I got a chance to play for five years with Bob.
In the 1971 Super Bowl season (when we won our first championship), he made a lot of great plays. We were losing to the Rams in Week 11, and we tied it going into halftime when he caught a 51-yard touchdown. We ended up winning that game 21-14. Two weeks later against the Giants, he caught a 46-yarder to give us a 7-0 lead and about a 90-yarder (it was 85) to put us up 28-0 in the second quarter (we won 42-14). New York's Spider Lockhart, who was one of the fastest players in the league, was even with Hayes on his long TD catch, but by the time Hayes hit the end zone, Lockhart had fallen about 5 to 6 yards behind him. Hayes was just that much faster than everyone else.
He was a great player, made big plays and really changed how you have to cover players. I think he had an effect on defenses because they couldn't play him man-to-man. No one could match his speed, and he had good hands. I think he mesmerized the other players with his Olympics success, and nobody was in the same league with Bob. We were amazed at how God gave him his extra speed.
Off the field, Bob was a fun-loving guy. He was a cut-up in the locker room. He maybe even had a little too much fun-loving going on in his life, but he really cared for other people. No matter what, he would be there if you needed him. He always had this smile on his face.
Last time I was able to see that smile was when he was put in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. I know he'll be at the Hall of Fame induction in spirit, but if he was there in person, he would be probably the most excited player to ever go into the Hall of Fame, based on his animated reaction to getting into the Ring of Honor.
I have the pleasure to introduce his son, but I still wish Bob could be there. The Hall of Fame is the essence of a team accomplishment through an individual effort, and this honor really justifies what was Hayes' phenomenal football career.