Raider Nation fondly remembers legendary defensive back Lester Hayes as one of the greatest ever. However, should he get the cheater label in retrospect?
As we continue to look back at Raiders’ history for some of the newer fans in Las Vegas, this could be a touchy subject. Raider Nation ardently defends its players, maybe to a fault even. By all accounts, Hayes should be an NFL Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, he’s in a group with all the Raiders that continued to receive disrespect such as Jim Plunkett, Cliff Branch, and coach Tom Flores.
Raider’s bias aside, the Hall of Fame likely excludes Hayes because he was a cheater in retrospect. The typical response in these types of scenarios is “if it wasn’t a rule then it wasn’t cheating.” That’s fair but you can look at other sports and see this isn’t necessarily an absolute. Baseball, for example, exploded in popularity during the “Homerun Era,” but as we know now, this was due to a rampant use of steroids. Technically, many of those substances we’rent illegal at that time, and yet, those players will probably never get into their perspective Hall of Fame.
Did The Raiders Encourage Cheating?
The now-legendary use of “Stickum” by Hayes has become synonymous with cheating in the NFL. It is after all the ultimate equalizer for a defensive back. You can literally steal interceptions with this advantage. It was so blatantly unfair that the NFL ruled it out in 1981. The official NFL Rule Book states,: Rule 5 Section 4 Article 4 Item 8, Adhesive and slippery substances are banned from the game.
Give credit where it’s due. The fact the NFL added a rule because of you brings a certain level of notoriety. Last year, The Daily Dose, also highlighted Hayes’ legacy and how the banning of Stickum impacted his career afterward. Needless to say, it correlates with the notion he was a cheater with ballooned statistics due to the substance.
“…Hayes spent ten years with the Raiders and is tied with Willie Brown for the franchise record for career interceptions . Twenty-five of those picks came in his first four seasons in the league. In 1980, Hayes was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 13 interceptions, then added five more in the postseason en route to Oakland’s win in Super Bowl XV. He never had more than four in any season after the Stickum rule – later dubbed the Lester Hayes Rule — was implemented.”
What Does Raider Nation Think?
It’s always unpopular to criticize or even suggest a Raiders player taking part in wrongdoing. While Raiders such as Flores not getting into the Hall is egregious, excluding Hayes is the right call, maybe. What do you think Raider Nation? How should the NFL Hall of Fame revisit Hayes’ legacy? More importantly, how do you feel personally? As always, let us know in the comments below!
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*Top Photo: Anonymous/Associated Press