The sadly deceased former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver is finally in the NFL Hall of Fame, making him, as the Dallas Morning News notes, “the only man to win a gold medal, a Super Bowl ring and selection to the Hall of Fame”:
Hayes was selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Tampa, less than 200 miles from his boyhood Jacksonville home. He will join Tom Landry, Tex Schramm as well as former Dallas Cowboys teammates Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro and Rayfield Wright in Canton, Ohio, as well as fellow Ring of Honor members Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Tony Dorsett and Randy White.
The wait was long – Hayes’ career ended in 1975 – and painful – he reached the finalists stage in 2004 only to be rejected on the final ballot two years after his death – but historic – he is now the only man to win a gold medal, a Super Bowl ring and selection to the Hall of Fame.
Others named were: defense lineman Randle McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson, defense back Rod Woodson.
Had Hayes not been selected this time, it would have been highly unlikely for him to come through the Senior Committee a third time.
After winning the 100-meter gold in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo to earn the “World’s Fastest Man” nickname, Hayes revolutionized the NFL with his speed. From 1965 to ’74 with the Cowboys, he caught 365 passes for 7,295 yards and his 71 career touchdown receptions remain a team record.
In an era in which teams did not throw as much as they do now, Hayes changed the way the game was played. Defenses could not cover him man-to-man and developed zone coverages to keep him from beating them deep.
More on the rest of the class of 2009 here.