Hayes’ Comeback Is Put on Hold : Judge Gets a Negative Ruling From the Raider Hierarchy
Oh, it’s been a long, long time from the start of Lester Hayes’ Raider career to what seems to be its impending end. Hayes has been readying himself for a miracle comeback against the Cleveland Browns Sunday but has just gotten the word:
Not this week.
A Raider source says that’s putting it delicately; forget about the struggles of possible replacements Lionel Washington, Ron Fellows and Sam Seale at the left corner, there is no possible scenario that will bring Hayes back next season.
You expected Hayes to take this lying down?
“There are some individuals in silver-and-blackdom who would rather run through a gauntlet of pit bulls wearing pork chop underwear than see me break the record for interceptions by a Raider,” Hayes said Wednesday.
Hayes shares the club record with the team’s defensive backfield coach, Willie Brown.
“They say I can work out with the team but I can’t play,” Hayes added. “I wanted to go against Lindy Infante (the Browns’ offensive coordinator). I know Lindy Infante from the days he was with the (Cincinnati) Bengals. I can break Willie Brown’s record against Lindy. Those are just old Lindy Infante-isms they’re running now.
“That damn fire in my heart is at a minute flicker. My damn heart is broke. I wanted to go against Lindy and that sissy, Webster Slaughter.
“I was going to give Webster the Vance Johnson treatment (Johnson once complained that Hayes poked him in the eye). I lost 10 pounds to face him and now it’s null and void.
“Last month, Coach (Al) Davis told me I could play the final two games. Now the word has come down, I won’t play against Lindy and Mike Ditka.”
He might be out a lot longer than that.
What does he think of his chances to play next year?
“Oh gee, I think I have two-three good years left within my anatomy,” Hayes said. “I want to spend the rest of my career with Bo (Thorpe) Jackson. That’s Thorpe as in Jim. Bo’s gonna try swimming next. He thinks he’s Johnny Weismuller.
“But if it’s not meant to be, I won’t only feel like Bernard King, I’ll be like Bernard King: I’ll be somewhere else, playing well.”
This being perhaps one of the last occasions on which Hayes will be able to offer an inside perspective on silver and blackdom, the various scoopmen gathered at his feet in the Raider pressroom--Hayes was making another in a long series of volunteer appearances--asked his opinion about all the current topics, like:
Bo Jackson’s destiny?
“I have a sixth sense about the intangibles,” Hayes said. “He wants to play baseball because of the longevity. If we have Bo, we can do what the Dolphins did, go 16 and 0.”
And without Bo?
(A pause. Laughing,) “Uh, we’re a question mark.
“Bo is not going to be a Mike Schmidt-type baseball player but he could be a Jim Brown-type football player,” Hayes said.
“About every 25 years or so, you find a guy who’s just been sent from Heaven. He’s from Heaven. There’s no individual I’ve ever seen like him and I’ve been watching since I saw the Tom Landry Show 27 years ago.
“This guy does things you can’t teach and you can’t coach. He’s God’s gift to Coach Davis. He is a halfback in a linebacker’s anatomy. He has Ben Johnson speed.
“I want him with us full-time. I want him with us in Oxnard so we can do what the Dolphins did in ’72. We could do that. We could win the Super Bowl. We could all have another four-carat diamond.”
Not to mention all those extra deceased presidents?
“There comes a time when you have enough deceased presidents (dollars) and you play for that ring,” Hayes said. “With Bo, I’d get that third ring.”
Hayes, of course, has so many DPs that he ranks himself as the 27th leading minority landowner in his native Texas. So if this is it for him, Raider-time, he’d at least have more than memories to keep him warm.
“By the year 2,000, I’ll be as rich as J.R. Ewing,” he says. “I’ll have my own town. Judgeville!”
In the meantime, the scoopmen have decided to rename the pressroom “Judgeville.”
Dokie Williams on whether teammates kid Bo Jackson about his decision. “Oh yeah, guys kid each other all the time, about every thing.” What do they say, he was asked, “Please don’t leave?” Said Williams, laughing: “We don’t come out and say it like that. Not all the time, anyway. . . . No, as a unit, we all hope that Bo is around as much as possible. If he decides to play baseball, so be it. We wish Bo the best in whatever he plans to do. But like you said, ‘Please don’t leave, Bo.’ .”.. And Williams, on the report that Al Davis’ response to Dokie’s request for a trade was to tell him if he really wanted out, he’d trade him somewhere snowy: "(Laughing)) I’ll say this: I did talk to him, personally. We talked about different things. I think snow was one of the subjects. Basically, the conversation was, he said he didn’t want me to go anywhere. He said I still fit into the offensive scheme of things.” Williams has regained his job following the injury to Mervyn Fernandez. . . . Mike Haynes is listed as probable. Lionel Washington played a little last week, so the Raiders may be able to start their first-string cornerbacks for the first time in three weeks.