Ramble 101: Stickum Up – Breaking The Rules Before They Were Rules

The Oakland Raiders have a long and illustrious history that lends heavily to the development of the NFL into the league that it is today.

To understand the Raiders is to understand the NFL. How could so much be attributable to one team, you may ask, but a glimpse into the past tells you everything you need to know about how Al Davis and his Raiders have molded the league in their own way.

Much of that history has to do with the rulebook that seems to get longer and longer every year. The Raiders were known for being the bad boys of the league, through some fault of their own, but not completely. And Davis led by example. He was a rebel who didn’t judge his players for their actions, he just asked for dedication. John Madden, head coach from 1969-1978, had only three rules:

The Raiders of the late 60s, through the 70s, and beyond, were known for their no holds barred style of play. While the reputation was well-deserved, it wasn’t as contrary to the league as it may seem today. The team was aggressive, but for five of the 10 years that Madden was the head coach, the Raiders were among the least penalized teams in the league. How did they do that? Well, they couldn’t break rules that weren’t there, so they made the rules. At the very least, the league had to create these rules to adjust for the team’s constant testing.

That’s what makes the Raiders relevant and why the league is better when they are.

The rules that the Raiders are credited with include some of the most controversial and well-known in the game today. One of those practices eventually outlawed by the league was the use of Stickum, also known as the “Lester Hayes Rule”.

Hayes was half of one of the best cornerback tandems in history. The Judge, as he was known, was a force on the field, inspiring fear in his opponents. He was also known for his blatant use of Stickum.

He wasn’t shy about its use and employed Stickum until the league outlawed it in 1981. The important takeaway: no rules were broken.  Even though Hall of Fame talents like Jerry Rice admitted to using Stickum after the ban, the Raiders skirted but didn’t cross that particular line.

Even though he seemed to have a slight advantage with a mound of glue on his hands, Hayes was a defensive back that today’s teams would break the bank for. He had zero seasons without an interception and even led the league in 1980 with 13, one short of tying NFL’s all-time leader Dick “Night Train” Lane. That is one of the most impressive seasons in terms of interceptions ever, and those were all because of his hands, not what was stuck to them.

Up Next: The Immaculate Recollection

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