A Snub That Must End

By Roy Buck
Updated: January 23, 2009

FORT WORTH, Tx. — The fact that “Bullet” Bob Hayes is still being sized up by the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters 34 years after he last played is utterly ridiculous.

The best I can calculate, Bullet Bob is about a quarter-century past due. He should have been inducted with Paul Warfield (’83) or Charley Taylor (’84). They were his peers.

But I keep telling myself that when it comes to HOF snubs, the only thing more criminal than late … is never.

ESPN analyst Cris Carter is one of 15 finalists for the Class of ’09, in his second year of eligibility. Even he is shocked that Hayes (a seniors committee finalist) isn’t already in.

“I haven’t checked my football history, but I don’t think we had a player like Bob Hayes before he came into the league,” said Carter, who began his career 12 years after Hayes finished his.

“Did he have an impact? Did he dominate the game? I mean … I thought those used to be the criteria for being in the Hall of Fame.”

Carter had one more question to ask: How can you write NFL history without this guy’s name?

“You can’t,” Carter said.

ESPN co-analyst Keyshawn Johnson, also headed to Tampa to cover Super Bowl XLIII, acknowledged that Hayes changed the game by forcing NFL defenses to design coverage to corral his speed.

“Bob Hayes transcended the wide receiver position of his time and era … [and] definitely deserves to be in,” Johnson said.

The verdict will be read about noon a week from Saturday, on Super Bowl eve.

Added Johnson: “I remember hearing Pete Rose [who is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame] say, ‘What good is it to me if I’m dead?’ ”

Hayes can’t raise that same question. He died in 2002.