Mike Haynes New England Patriots & Los Angeles Raiders
"(Playing defense) You’re always either bad or great. There are no in-betweens. I wish the public was more educated about defenses but they’re not … I’ve had some of my best games when I’ve completely shut out a guys and it goes unnoticed.”
Mike Haynes, a three-year All-WAC star at Arizona State, was the New England Patriots’ first selection in the 1976 NFL Draft. The 6-2, 192-pound Haynes was the fifth player and the first defensive back taken in that year’s draft.
Haynes relied on his speed, quickness and range to become both a premier defensive back and an outstanding punt return specialist. He enjoyed a sensational rookie year with the Patriots with eight interceptions and an AFC-leading 608 yards on 45 punt returns. That year, Haynes gave the Patriots their first-ever touchdowns on punt returns with 89-yard and 62-yard returns. He earned a Pro Bowl invitation as a rookie, the first of nine Pro Bowl bids.
Haynes, who was born on July 1, 1953, in Denison, Texas, recorded 28 interceptions and 1,159 yards on 111 returns, a 10.4-yard average during his seven years with the Patriots. He started his career with 58 consecutive starts before being sidelined with a rib injury late in 1979.
Haynes played out his option with the Patriots in 1982 and in November, 1983, his contract was awarded to the Los Angeles Raiders in a settlement that gave the Patriots a No. 1 draft choice in 1984 and a No. 2 pick in 1985. Haynes played the last five games in 1983 and then started and had one interception in the Raiders’ Super Bowl XVIII victory.
In seven seasons with the Raiders, Haynes returned only one punt but he added 18 interceptions to give him a career total of 46 which were returned for 688 yards and two touchdowns, including a team-record 97-yard return against Miami in 1984. Haynes was an All-Pro choice in 1977, 1978, 1982, 1984 and 1985 and an All-AFC pick eight times.