If you watched football in the late 70s and early 80s you knew just by looking at the stance that Lester Hayes was on the job. Playing for the juggernaut that was the Oakland Raiders, Hayes' crouching, bump and run position was as identifiable as the black and silver.
Hayes plied his craft at Texas A&M via Wheatley High School in Houston. An All-America at Texas A&M in 1975, Hayes moved from linebacker to safety his junior season and at 6'2 230 lbs was one of the first mega predators to roam the defensive backfield. That 1975 Aggie team is largely forgotten by fans today but it was perhaps the best in Aggie history. In 1976 Hayes finished third in the NCAA and second in the SWC in picks.
The Raiders saw fit to draft Hayes in 1977 and move him to corner where he starred on two Super Bowl Champions and was a five time Pro Bowler, back when Pro Bowls meant something. Hayes led the NFL in interceptions in 1980 and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Hayes and fellow Raider corner Mike Haynes established a no-fly zone for the Oakland defense.
Hayes was also famous for using stickum, a gooey peanut buttery substance that he applied to his socks and then his hands to help him hold on to the football. Fred Biletnikoff introduced the stuff to Hayes in 1977. The NFL outlawed the stickum in the early 80s because of Hayes' and others use.
He retired from the Raiders with 39 interceptions, good enough for a tie for most in Raider history with Willie Brown. Brown is in the Hall of Fame, Hayes as of yet, hasn't been given that honor, though he should.
Hayes retired to Northern California and at age 44, through intensive speech therapy overcame a stutter he'd had since his was a child. Let's hope he gets to give a Hall of Fame speech soon.