Does Race Explain the Exclusion of Lester Hayes from the Hall of Fame?

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJanuary 18, 2010

For those who read my articles, you would know that I have made an issue of race in regards to the NFL.  In previous articles, I have been more cut-throat in my approach to tearing down egos.

I resolved this year however to tone down the rhetoric and make the discussion the focal point rather than incendiary assertions.

Here comes the question of former Raiders corner-back Lester Hayes and the subject of his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.

On one hand, almost any historian of the NFL would say that Hayes dominated at his position for a team that twice won the Super Bowl.  In one such year, 1980, Hayes earned the award for Defensive Player of the Year with thirteen interceptions.

That achievement of course has long been in question, because of Hayes' infamous use of the now banned substance Stickum. 

Thus, people ask this: Was Hayes truly dominant?

Partly because of that, the Raiders have long had the reputation of cheating, so much so that people still lament that quarterback Dan Fouts and the San Diego Chargers were robbed of a Super Bowl berth, if not a victory.

I'd like to note that Raider Haters can no longer ridicule the Raiders for "cheating," because many of those same people have defended the Patriots for cheating, because, "everybody does it." 

Besides, how is it cheating when there was no rule to break?  The Patriots broke rules. The use of Stickum (at the time) however, did not break the rules.

The Chargers and Raiders of course, faced-off in the AFC Championship game in the 1980 season.  The Raiders won and went on to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles for the second Super Bowl win in Raiders history.

The question that has long lingered in my mind is: Why do people question the achievements of Hayes because of Stickum, yet do not question the achievements of receiver Fred Biletnikoff because of Stickum?

Biletnikoff of course, was the teammate that introduced Stickum to Hayes.  Yet Hayes seems to have been excluded from the Hall of Fame because voters question the legitimacy of Hayes' achievements because of Stickum.

Yet not only is Fred Biletnikoff in the Hall of Fame as a receiver, the award for best college receiver is named after Biletnikoff.  Biletnikoff even earned the honor of Super Bowl MVP after the Raiders defeated the Minnesota Vikings

Biletnikoff is also the only current Raiders receiver enshrined in the Hall of Fame (note: James Lofton played for the Raiders for only a season).

It seems strange then that not only has the Hall excluded Hayes, but also receiver Cliff Branch.  It seems the issue of Stickum was irrelevant in the case of Biletnikoff, but not in the case of Hayes.  And that the Hall has clearly recognized Biletnikoff as the best receiver in Raiders history thus far, regardless of Stickum (Tim Brown could change that).

More importantly, the NFL only banned Stickum after Hayes had dominated by using it.  The rule of course is known as the Lester Hayes rule.  Yet, the NFL ignored the issue of Stickum when Biletnikoff used it. 

Strange, ain't it?

I also find it interesting that Hayes' best year, 1980, was only two years after the enactment of the Mel Blount rule; a season in which the Raiders would face Dan Fouts and the Chargers.

For those of you who don't know, the Blount rule is the reason for penalties described as "illegal use of the hands."  Blount of course had dominated as a corner-back for the legendary Steel Curtain defense in Pittsburgh.  Thus, the NFL made a rule to deprive the corner-back of the ability to do his thing, so that the quarterback can do his thing.

The reason I find it interesting that the Raiders and Chargers faced off that year is because until the advent of the Mel Bount rule, Fouts was at best a mediocre quarterback that had never thrown more touchdowns than interceptions, and had only once passed more than 2,000 yards in the five seasons prior.

Any historian of the NFL understands the correlation between the Mel Blount rule and the rise of the passing-game.  In all but a few seasons since then, the top quarterback has had over 4,000 yards passing in every season. 

In the years before the rule, only Joe Namath had topped 4,000 yards in 1967.  I should note however, that was back when the American Football League was still considered a joke because it emphasized the passing game.

Before you get confused, I don't necessarily hate the passing-game.  However, I like it when I believe that the quarterback earned it.  Under many NFL rules since then though, the league has made it increasingly easier for a quarterback to dominate.

And because the quarterback "dominates" to him go all the spoils. 

Just ask Chris Johnson.

Some claim the game has "evolved," which is a ludicrous assertion because it presupposes that people *know* which direction is evolution and not devolution. 

The game has evolved because the passing game makes the game less violent? 

Well then, if one position can receive exclusive rules to protect that player from violence, why not let a woman play? 


The main argument that has prevented women from playing football is that the game is too violent.  Yet, the NFL has clearly set a precedent in which the NFL is willing to make the game less violent, especially for one position.

How's that for irony?

I should specify that many fans analogize their manhood with football.  Yet, by intentionally making the game less violent for a chosen few, it opens the door to people that would have otherwise been excluded.

Clearly, it does not take a uniquely talented player to succeed at quarterback.  It also doesn't take "brains" to play quarterback.  According to the NFL IQ test, the Wonderlic, Dan Marino is an idiot. 

I'm not being facetious.  His score on the Wonderlic would indicate that he is a moron.

Yet, Marino still succeeded at a high level in the NFL.  Some would even say that Marino dominated.  Meanwhile, a Harvard graduate like Ryan Fitzpatrick who nailed the Wonderlic, has been nothing more than a journeyman in the NFL.

Yet, no one questions whether the quarterback is truly dominant, when the quarterback's dominance since 1978 has clearly been an artificial construct of the NFL. 

People did however look down on someone like Hayes who infamously suffered from a speech impediment that made him sound like the stereotype of a semi-educated and incoherent black guy that could succeed only by depriving a white guy of his supposed rightful place.

Or as Senate majority leader Harry Reid might say the, "Negro dialect."  Turned out that Hayes was in fact an articulate and intelligent man, once Hayes overcame his impediment.

I truly believe that if it wasn't for the Mel Blount rule that Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, and a few others would not be in the Hall of Fame. Instead, the Hall inducts every quarterback under the sun and deprives others of their rightful place in the Hall.

Moreover, people will claim that the runningbacks and receivers have the quarterback to thank for their success.  Yet, the same people also say that Marino never had a running-game. 

Strange, ain't it? 

And I would also say that the tokenback has a bunch of owners that think Rush Limbaugh is too liberal to thank for his success, and the fact that the quarterback gets to rob others of credit because of effed-up rules (ex Brady Rule) that make the NFL seem more like the WWE.

I couldn't resist.


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