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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Cowboys' legend Hayes has second chance at Hall

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

In a surprising but appropriate move, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's seniors committee has re-nominated the late, great Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes. This report comes to us from veteran Dallas Morning News NFL writer Rick "Goose" Gosselin, who did his best to state Hayes' case during the 2004 selection meeting in Houston.

As Goose points out, Hayes is only the fourth candidate to be given a second chance since the seniors committee was formed in 1972. Two of the previous three made it into the Hall -- the only exception coming in 2008, when Marshall Goldberg was rejected again.

Hayes died in 2002, but his legacy lives on in the way defensive coordinators draw up their schemes. His world-class speed (won the gold in the 100-meter at the '64 Tokyo Games) caught former director of personnel Gil Brandt's eye, and the Cowboys selected Hayes in the seventh round of the 1964 draft. (Has anyone contacted Usain Bolt?)

In 10 seasons, he caught 371 passes for a franchise-record 71 touchdowns. Cornerbacks had no clue how to defend him on deep routes, so coaches were forced to invent zone coverage.

It's baffling how a man who changed the game could've been left out this long, but the selection panel now has a chance to do the right thing. You can't compare stats of someone who played in the 1960s with someone who plays today.

And if anyone is still holding Hayes' off-the-field issues against him, it's probably time to be reminded that none of that stuff's supposed to figure into the final decision. Like a lot of players, Hayes struggled in his post-football career. But that doesn't take away from his brilliance on the field.

I called Hayes' sister, Lucille, on the day he didn't make it into the Hall. She was disappointed, but that didn't keep her and the rest of the Hayes family from traveling to Canton, Ohio, to see Hayes' former teammate Rayfield Wright inducted a couple years later.

Kudos to the seniors committee for giving it one more try.