Bob Hayes, Olympic
gold medalist and former Dallas Cowboys star, dies at 59
A look back at
"Bullet" Bob Hayes in photos
By RON WORD
Associated Press Writer
Fla. (AP) - "Bullet" Bob Hayes, the Olympic gold medal
sprinter and Dallas Cowboys receiver who was once deemed the
fastest man alive, has died. He was 59.
He died of kidney
failure at Shands Hospital late Wednesday, daughter Westine Lodge
Hayes earned the
title "World's Fastest Human" and redefined the way
the National Football League plays pass defense, but many of
his accomplishments were later tainted by drug and alcohol addiction
that landed him in jail and were part of the reason he was never
inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
At the Tokyo Olympics
in 1964, Hayes won the gold medal in the 100 meters, tying the
then-world record of 10.05 seconds. He also anchored the U.S.
400-meter relay team that won in a world-record 39.06 seconds.
Hayes' relay split
was a sensational 8.6. Nearly 20 years later, The Los Angeles
Times called it "the most astonishing sprint of all time."
The following year,
the Cowboys drafted him in the seventh round, taking a chance
on the former Florida A&M star with blazing speed but unrefined
In his rookie season,
Hayes had 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns while leading the NFL
with an average of 21.8 yards per catch.
speed forced defenses, unable to cover him with the traditional
man-to-man schemes of the day, to come up with many of the zone
defenses that are common in today's game.
When Dallas won
the Super Bowl after the 1971 season, Hayes became the first
athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. More
than 30 years later, he's still the only person with both.
His success came
long before the era when athletes like Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson
and Michael Jordan gained attention for succeeding at two sports.
Hayes won championships in both track and football.
He finished an 11-year
NFL career with 71 touchdown catches, a 20-yard average per catch,
and three trips to the Pro Bowl. His statistics were comparable
or better than many of the great receivers of his day, and his
career appeared worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.
But he hasn't made
it, in part because of a drug and alcohol problem in an era when
the public wasn't nearly as accustomed to seeing its sports stars
struggle with their personal lives.
Hayes served 10
months in federal prison after an April 1979 guilty plea to delivering
narcotics to an undercover police officer. That "destroyed
my life" Hayes wrote in his autobiography, "Run, Bullet,
Run: The Rise, Fall, and Recovery of Bob Hayes."
The prison term
ended at about the same time he became eligible for the Hall,
apparently dooming his chances. He was inducted in the National
Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1976, but not the Pro Football
Hall of Fame.
"I feel like
an outcast _ like I've been left out and forgotten throughout
the nation," Hayes said in 1999. "There's a lot of
pain in my heart because what I accomplished was second to none.
I'm not losing any sleep, but I do pay attention every year at
He wasn't alone
in his disappointment.
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, and that's a helluva long time," said former Cowboys
president and general manager Tex Schramm.
Hayes wasn't even
part of the Cowboys Ring of Honor until team owner Jerry Jones
agreed in September 2001 to make him the 11th member. Ring of
Honor names are displayed inside Texas Stadium.
I'm grateful, I'm blessed," Hayes told the crowd at his
induction. "I played for the world's greatest professional
sports team in history. Once a Dallas Cowboy, always a Dallas
Hayes retired in
1976 and lived in Dallas, before moving back to Jacksonville
in the mid-1990s where he lived with his parents in relative
obscurity. He continued to battle drug and alcohol problems and
had been to rehabilitation programs three times after his retirement.
"I won gold
medals representing this country, but I've gotten more recognition
around the world than I have in my own backyard," he said.
Hayes is survived
by his mother, brother, sister and five children.
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