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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It was a long time coming, but Florida A&M University's (FAMU) sports legend, Robert Lee "Bullet Bob" Hayes is headed for Canton, Ohio and the National Football League's Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Hayes, who passed away at age 59 on September 18, 2002, following a long bout with liver and kidney ailments, will be inducted posthumously along with five others this coming July.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., who graduated from Matthew Gilbert High School, Hayes was a two-sport star at FAMU, lettering in football and track from 1961 to 1964.
The phenomenal Hayes would eventually soar to such heights athletically, that he became the only individual to date to win an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.
Hayes would capture two gold medals in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games in the 100 meters and as the anchorman in the 4x100 relay, still one of the most fabled performances in Olympic history.
Following the 1964 college season, Hayes took his world-class athletic resume to the National Football League, where his football skills and sprinter's speed helped revolutionize the pro game.
During a scintillating NFL career which ran from 1965 through 1975 with the Dallas Cowboys (1965-74) and the San Francisco 49ers (1975), Hayes set new league and team standards for receiving and returns, helping the Cowboys capture the 1971 Super Bowl championship. Hayes at FAMU
In football at FAMU (1961-64), Hayes was a multi-purpose performer, lining up as a halfback, wingback or receiver. He scored a team-high 11 touchdowns as a junior in 1963, leading the team in punt returns in 1962 and 1963, while leading FAMU in kickoff returns all four years, averaging an incredible 34.3 yards per return as a freshman in 1961.
In track, while still a student at FAMU, 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.
That same year, 1963, Hayes set the world best for 200 meters (20.5 seconds, although the time was never ratified) and tied the world record for the 220-yard dash with a time of 20.6 seconds (while running into an eight mph wind).
Hayes was also the first person to break six seconds in the 60-yard dash with his indoor world record of 5.9 seconds.
He was the AAU 100 yard dash champion three years running, from 1962-1964, and in 1964 he was the NCAA champion in the 200 meter dash. He would miss part of his senior year in college because of his successful 1964 Olympic bid for U.S. Gold. Hayes in the Olympics
Bob Hayes came into the 1964 Olympics already armed with a world-class reputation in the sprints. But his performances in Tokyo only elevated him to legend.
At the Tokyo Games, Hayes had his finest hour as a sprinter. First, he won the 100 meters by tying the-then world record with a time of 10.0 seconds, even though he was running in lane 1 which had, the day before, been used for the 10km and this badly chewed up the cinder track.
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), during which he ran an anchor leg that was clocked between 8.6 and 8.8 seconds.
His come-from-behind win for the U.S. team was one of the most memorable Olympic moments. 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, “That's all you need...”
The race was also Hayes' last as a track and field athlete, as he permanently switched to football after it.
Hayes in the NFL
Bob Hayes' transition to pro football ignited a revolution within the game, as his world-class speed proved virtually unstoppable by the traditional defensive schemes of the day.
He finished his career with 371 receptions for 7,414 yards and 71 touchdowns over his 11-year career, during which he made three Pro Bowl appearances (1965, 1966, 1967), while earning All-Pro notices from the Associated Press (AP) three times (1966, 1967, 1968) and four times from United Press International (UPI) between 1965 and 1968.
Dallas, with Hayes in tow, won Super Bowl VI, 24-3 over the Miami Dolphins at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana, shedding their bridesmaids label with one of the most dominating performances in Super Bowl history. Hayes: The Later Years
The record-setting former track star kept his love for the sport and young people alive through the Bob Hayes Invitational Track Meet - one of the nation's top high school meets - held annually in his hometown of Jacksonville each March.
Current Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the organization enshrined Hayes in the Cowboys' fabled "Ring of Honor" in Texas Stadium on September 23, 2001, just a year prior to his death.
Hayes was honored by FAMU years earlier, with induction into its Sports Hall of Fame, as a member of the inaugural class in 1976 - a group which featured such luminaries as tennis legend Althea Gibson and College Hall of Fame football coach, A.S. “Jake” Gaither.
FAMU now proudly joins the ranks of the many historically black colleges and universities such as Southern University, Grambling, Tennessee State, South Carolina State and Morgan State, who have produced an NFL Hall of Famer.
The impending enshrinement of Hayes now gives FAMU's fabled football program yet another feather in its collective cap with a Pro Football Hall of Famer to go along with four College Hall of Fame honorees, 12 national championships, 38 conference titles and over 500 victories since 1906.
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