American Football Database
Bob Hayes
File:FAMU athlete Robert Hayes practices running on the track.jpg
Running track at FAMU in 1962
No. 22     
Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1942-12-20)December 20, 1942
Place of birth: Jacksonville, Florida
Date of death: September 18, 2002(2002-09-18) (aged 59)
Place of death: Jacksonville, Florida
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) Weight: 185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
College: Florida A&M
NFL Draft: 1964 / Round: 7 / Pick: 88
Debuted in 1965 for the Dallas Cowboys
Last played in 1975 for the San Francisco 49ers
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 1975
Receptions     371
Receiving Yards     7,414
Touchdowns     71
Stats at
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Robert Lee "Bullet Bob" Hayes (December 20, 1942 – September 18, 2002) was an Olympic sprinter turned American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. An American track and field athlete, he was a two-sport stand-out in college in both track and football at Florida A&M University. Hayes was enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001 and was selected for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January 2009. He was officially inducted in Canton, Ohio on August 8, 2009. Hayes is the second Olympic gold medalist to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, after Jim Thorpe.

Once considered the world's fastest man by virtue of his multiple world records in the 60-yard, 100-yard, 220-yard, and Olympic 100-meter dashes, Hayes is the only man to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.

High school and college

Hayes attended Matthew Gilbert High School (now a middle school) in Jacksonville, where he was a backup halfback on the football team. The 1958 Gilbert High Panthers finished 12-0, winning the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Association black school state championship with a 14-7 victory over Dillard High School of Fort Lauderdale before more than 11,000 spectators. In times of segregation laws, their achievement went basically unnoticed, yet 50 years later they were recognized as one of the best teams in FHSAA history.[1][2]

Hayes was also the first person to break six seconds in the 60 yard dash with his indoor world record of 5.9 seconds. While a student at Florida A&M in 1962, Hayes ran a new world record for the 100 yard dash with a time of 9.2 seconds. The next year he broke his own record with a time of 9.1, a record that would not be broken for eleven years (until Ivory Crockett ran a 9.0 in 1974). That same year, Hayes set the world best for 200 meters (20.5 seconds, although the time was never ratified) and ran the 220 yard dash in a time of 20.6 seconds (while running into an eight mph wind).

He was the AAU 100 yard dash champion three years running, from 1962–1964, and in 1964 was the NCAA champion in the 200 meter dash. He would miss part of his senior year in college because of his 1964 Olympic bid for U.S. Gold.


At the 1964 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Hayes had his finest hour as a sprinter. First, he won the 100m and broke the then world record in the 100 m with a time of 10.06 seconds, even though he was running in lane 1 which had, the day before, been used for the 20 km racewalk and this badly chewed up the cinder track. He also was running in borrowed spikes because one of his shoes had been kicked under the bed when he was playing with some friends and he didn't realize until he got there.[3] This was followed by a second gold medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay, which also produced a new World Record (39.06 seconds).

His come-from-behind win for the US team in the relay was one of the most memorable Olympic moments. Hand-timed between 8.5 and 8.9 seconds, his relay leg is one of the fastest in history.[4] Jocelyn Delecour, France's anchor leg runner, famously said to Paul Drayton before the relay final that, "You can't win, all you have is Bob Hayes." Drayton was able to reply afterwards, "All you need..." The race was also Hayes' last as a track and field athlete, as he permanently switched to football after it.[5]

In some of the first meets to be timed with experimental fully automatic timing, Hayes was the first man to break ten seconds for the 100 metres, albeit with a 5.3 m/s wind assistance in the semi-finals of the 1964 Olympics. His time was recorded at 9.91 seconds. Jim Hines officially broke 10 seconds at altitude in 1968 with a wind legal 9.95 which stood as the world record for almost 15 years. Aside from Ben Johnson, who ran 9.79 in the 1988 Olympic final only to be banned from the sport for using Performance-enhancing drugs, the next to surpass Hayes at the Olympics was the 3 medalists in 1996, led by Donovan Bailey doing 9.84, 32 years later.[6]

Professional football career

Early years

The Dallas Cowboys drafted Hayes in the seventh round of the 1964 NFL Draft with a future draft pick, wich allowed the team to draft him before his college elegibility was over, taking a chance that the Olympic sprinter with unrefined football skills could excel as a wide receiver.[7] He was also drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 14th round of the 1964 AFL Draft, with a future selection. The bet paid off, due to his amazing feats in cleats. Hayes has been credited by many with forcing the NFL to develop a zone defense and the bump and run to attempt to contain him.[8]

Hayes' first two seasons were most successful, during which he led the NFL both times in receiving touchdowns. In 1966 Hayes caught six passes for 195 yards against the New York Giants at the Cotton Bowl. Later, in the Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins match-up, Hayes caught nine passes for 246 yards (a franchise record until Miles Austin broke it with a 250 yard-performance on October 11, 2009 against the Kansas City Chiefs). Hayes' speed forced other teams to go to a zone since no single player could keep up with him. Spreading the defense out in hopes of containing Hayes allowed the Cowboys' talented running game to flourish, rushers Don Perkins, Calvin Hill, Walt Garrison and Duane Thomas taking advantage of the diminished coverage of the line of scrimmage. Hayes is also infamous for two events, both involving the NFL championship games in 1966 and 1967, both against the Packers. In the 1966 game, on the last meaningful play of the game, Hayes miss an assignment of blocking linebacker Dave Robinson which resulted in Don Meredith nearly being sacked by Robinson and as a result throwing a desperation pass into the end zone that was intercepted by Tom Brown. In the 1967 NFL championship, the "Ice Bowl" played on New Years Eve, 1967, Hayes was known to give away the plays as pass or run because on running plays he kept his hands inside his pant to keep them warm and the Green Bay defense knew they didn't need to cover him.

Multiple offensive threat

In addition to receiving, Hayes returned punts for the Cowboys and was the NFL's leading punt returner in 1968 with a 20.8 yards per return average and two touchdowns, including a 90 yarder against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was named to the Pro Bowl three times and First-team All-Pro twice and Second-team All-Pro twice. He helped Dallas win five Eastern Conference titles, two NFC titles, played in two Super Bowls, and was instrumental in Dallas' first ever Super Bowl victory in 1972, making Hayes the only person to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. Later in his career, as defenses improved playing zone and the bump and run was refined, Hayes' value as an erstwhile decoy rather than a deep threat diminished. Hayes played one season for the San Francisco 49ers before retiring. Also, by then, there were many players faster than Hayes, such as the Raiders' speedster Cliff Branch.

Cowboy records

Hayes was the second player (after Franklin Clarke) in the history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise to surpass 1,000 yards (ground or air) in a single season, and he did that in his rookie year by finishing with 1,003 yards. Also during his rookie year, he led the team with 46 receptions and set franchise records for total touchdowns (13) and total receiving touchdowns (12). He finished his 11-year career with 371 receptions for 7,414 yards and 71 touchdowns, giving him an impressive 20 yards per catch average (both career touchdowns and yards per catch average remain franchise records.) He also rushed for 68 yards, gained 581 yards on 23 kickoff returns, and returned 104 punts for 1,158 yards and three touchdowns.

In 1965 he also started a streak (19651966) of seven consecutive games with at least a touchdown pass, which still stands as a Cowboys record shared with Franklin Clarke (19611962), Terrell Owens (2007) and Dez Bryant (2012).

His 7,295 receiving yards are the fourth-most in Dallas Cowboys history. To this day, Hayes holds ten regular-season receiving records, four punt return records and twenty-two overall franchise marks, making him one of the greatest receivers to ever play for the Cowboys.


On September 18, 2002, Hayes died in his hometown Jacksonville of kidney failure, after battling prostate cancer and liver ailments.[9]

Pro Football Hall of Fame

2004 Controversy

Hayes was close to being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, but was denied the opportunity in the final round of decision making. The decision was marred by controversy, with many claiming that the Hall of Fame Senior Selection Committee had a bias against members of the Dallas Cowboys and other NFL teams.[citation needed] Others believe Hayes' legal and drug use issues marred his chances.[citation needed] Shortly after the announcement of the new 2004 Hall of Fame members, long-time Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman resigned from the Selection Committee in protest of the decision to leave Hayes out of the Hall. Zimmerman is now back in as one of the Hall of Fame voters ([1]).

2009 Induction

On August 27, 2008, Hayes was named as one of two senior candidates for the 2009 Hall of Fame election.[10] On Saturday, January 31, 2009, he was selected as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2009.[8]

The next day Lucille Hester released a letter she claimed he had drafted three years before he died, on October 29, 1999, in case he did not live to see his induction. Its full text read:

You know I am not sure I am going to be around if I get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame so you must read this for me, I am not sure, I guess I am feeling sorry for myself at this time but you must remember everything I want you to do and say. Mother said you would do what I want because you always did. So read this for me.
I would like to thank everyone who supported me to get into the NFL Hall of Fame, the Dallas Cowboys organization, all of my team mates and everyone who played for the Cowboys, (thank the San Francisco 49ers too). Thank the fans all around the country and the world, thank the committee who voted for me and also the ones who may did not vote for me, thank Mother and my family, thank Roger Stauback [sic] and tell all my teammates I love them dearly.
Thank the Pro Football Hall of Fame, all the NFL teams and players, Florida A&M University, thank everyone who went to Matthew Gilbert High School, thank everyone in Jacksonville and Florida and everyone especially on the East Side of Jacksonville. Thank everyone in the City of Dallas and in Texas and just thank everyone in the whole world.
I love you all.

Delivered by Hester in front of hundreds and a national cable television audience, the moment was described as "... one of the most compelling and touching scenes the Hall of Fame has seen."[11] Shortly after, it was discovered that the supposedly signed letter was printed in the Calibri font, which didn't exist until five years after Hayes' death.[12] Some family members are disputing Lucille Hester's claim to be related to Bob and are taking steps to ensure she is not part of the Hall of Fame ceremony.[13][14] On August 8, 2009, Bob Hayes was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Roger Staubach, Bob's Dallas Cowboy teammate, along with Bob's son Bob Hayes Jr, unveiled the bust, which was sculpted by Scott Myers. On hand were six members of Bob's Gilbert High School championship team.[15]


External links