Mike Haynes Enshrinement speech

Mike Haynes Enshrinement Speech 1997

Presenter: Howard Slusher

Thank you very much. Mike Haynes was almost the first holdout never to report to the Hall of Fame ceremonies. We we’re each told we had five minutes to present. I can’t do anything in five minutes and besides I bill on an hourly rate. So, I simply said Mike was not coming and I negotiated for a few extra moments. This day is a double treat for me. First, the obvious, I get to present a man that I’ve known for 22 years, Mike Haynes, who I’ve worked with through his entire career, including his career off the NFL where he’s now with Calloway Golf as a senior person in their marketing division. But secondly, I get to share the stage with Mike Webster. I was fortunate enough to work with Mike and represent Mike through the middle of his career and I can assure you that no one showed greater dedication, greater professionalism and greater care for the NFL than Mike Webster. I’ve only got two hours left. This is an amazing year – 1997 may go down as the year, believe it or not, of the agent.

First Hollywood brought you Jerry Maguire, then TV land brought Arlus and now the Hall of Fame, directed and produced by Mike Haynes brings you “Agent Orange.” I doubt if the commissioner will ever get over this. How does one give definition to Michael Haynes’ achievements? I’m not going to give you a bunch of stats, you’ve heard them, and you’ve read them. But I do think I owe you what two great football players have said about Mike. Dan Fouts, a Hall of Famer, “It’s very simple, you’re going to introduce the greatest defensive back who has ever played the game. He was effortless, he was graceful, he was deceptively strong but the thing about Mike Haynes was if you were going to beat him you better beat him in the first quarter because in the fourth quarter when everyone got tired, he got stronger and faster. He was a true student of the game; he was tougher than anyone ever thought, and he was a great tackler besides simply the best man-to-man cover guy I ever had to throw against. Lynn Swann, who is perhaps one of the finest wide receivers who’s ever played this game, said, “Mike Haynes was a ballerina in cleats. He had great quickness and anticipation, fantastic reaction time and even better release time. He worked hard on every single play. He simply took you out of your game and you didn’t know it was happening to you.” That’s the Mike Haynes, the football player. But what about Mike Haynes, the man? For me, and I’ve known Mike for almost 23 years, his defining moment came in the Fall of 1993. He put it all on the line, he risked everything to achieve what he wanted. With the help of Gene Upshaw, another Hall of Famer, and the Players Association, we chartered a course that changed his career, the careers of many, and the careers perhaps of all of professional football in the future. No Mike Haynes did not say, “Show me the money.” He did not jump around and talk trash and jive. He did not talk on a portable telephone over a ghetto blaster.

In a word, he did not perpetuate the only too sad racial stereotypes that are promulgated by some of the black athlete in America and who’s not the athlete, for the most part, that I have ever known. It is certainly not Mike Haynes. Mike knew what he wanted. He had what Willie Lanier, yesterday in a very special luncheon, called a passion for individual excellence. And that excellence had to come in two ways. He felt he had to earn the ring of a Super Bowl champion and he had to earn the ring that he receives today. While it seemed arrogant for Mike to say that, I found it to be a refreshing candor and we said how do we go about doing it. Mike desired to be coached by the best defensive coordinator he knew – his former mentor, Charlie Sumner. He wanted to be taught by the best corner he believed he ever saw on a football field – Willie Brown. He wanted an organization that wanted to sacrifice and wanted to win in the worse way and in a sense wanted to ‘Just Win Baby.’ And he wanted the motivation to play before his parents, Barbara and his dad Hutson. And he wanted to play in the city that he grew up in and he loved. All avenues pointed in one direction – the Raiders. With the intelligence, the style, the grace and the courage, the discipline that he showed on the field, we set forth and history will show what happened.

In 1982, he played out his option with the Patriots. He became a free agent in 1983. He sat home for eleven games… eleven games of hell. Days and days when he never wavered because he knew what he was doing was for his future. The Pats finally gave in. They assigned his rights to the Raiders. The NFL voided the transaction. Haynes promptly sued in federal court and on November 14, 1983, the NFL shockingly reversed its field and said, ‘Okay Mike, you’re a Raider.’ History will show that a short three months from that day, Mike Haynes’ first installment came and brought fruit. Super Bowl XVIII, the Redskins, the mighty Redskins, who had won every single game that season, except two, and both of those games they lost by one point. The same Redskins, who in the fifth week of the season, scored 37 points against the Raiders; 417 yards in the air, three touchdowns and no interceptions. That Redskin team went down to defeat 38-9 with no (touchdown) passes in the air, 193 yards and Mike Haynes returning one big one. Today, today Michael obtains the second installment of that dream. He is now forever, forever, part of that legacy – the legacy of this great game. He, in essence, receives that yellow jacket that informs the world that he deserves their respect for being the best that ever played. Think about it ladies and gentlemen, he is not for now, he is forever. And if this were not enough, there was a third element (crowd jeers). . .I give up? Humility is not my strong suit but today I’m humbled. I present for enshrinement, the man – Mr. Michael James Hefflin Haynes

Mike Haynes

Thank you, please sit down. Thank you, Howard. That real special introduction, I really mean that. Howard Slusher has really become someone very special in my life and he was really trying to communicate that to you. And it’s really the reason that I chose him to be my presenter here today and Howard, I want you to know I appreciate it and I love you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Good morning everybody. I’m sure you have some idea of how I’m feeling right now to be standing on these steps. I’m extremely happy and I’m extremely proud and I’m trying not to break down up here. I have a bet with these gentlemen over here (pointing to tent of enshrinees?). This is probably the one of the most emotional experiences that an athlete can ever have. To be here surrounded by luminaries, coaches, owners, former players -- people that have made this game really special. People who recognized great coaches like coach Shula, great owners like Wellington Mara and great players like Mike and several others that are here. I want to extend my congratulations to my fellow inductees. Gentleman, I am honored to be up here with you.

Now, they’ve asked us to keep this to eight minutes for your benefit and for the benefit of TV, I’m sure. I’m going to try my best to do that but there are no guarantees. Like everybody here, I also am blessed with a loving family and you know, you have no idea, Mom and Dad, how much this really means to me for you to be here. My mother Barbara, my dad Hutson, my brother Reggie, my three sisters, Monica, Gail and Diana. My three children, Aaron, Jared and Vanessa and their mother Julie and my sweetheart GiGi Madonna. You’ve all given me strength, courage and passion and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much. Although I live in San Diego now, my hometown is Los Angeles. And I want to thank the few that came all that way. All right! For me, it all started there. From the people in my neighborhood, who I’ve been spending a lot of time with here the last few days reminiscing. I went to the public schools in Los Angeles. I grew up like a lot of people do in this country. I do what a lot of parents, like all parents try to get their kids to do good things, I was really no different. For me, sports was an opportunity for me to express myself. Los Angeles is an incredibly interesting city – all different kinds of people there, different kinds of cultures there. I really think growing up in Los Angeles has really kind of prepared me for life, around the world really, and I’m so glad that I have that as a place that it all started for me.

Los Angeles, I want to say thank you to you as well. I want to give special thanks to my coaches and teachers in high school even. For there, is where I learned about self-esteem and where I learned that it was important to be a well-rounded individual and it was there that people encouraged me to have dreams and to seek those dreams. Thank you, Marshall High School and all you teachers and coaches. Now from there I went to Arizona State. And a lot of people might think that’s where it really started for me because really growing up in L.A. there’s so many, so many good athletes, it’s hard, or easy, to be overshadowed. But in college is where I got a chance to excel and really recognized. I was very fortunate there to run into a guy named Frank Kush who was my college coach. And Frank was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame two years ago. He’s here today and I would appreciate if you would join me by clapping your hands. Thank you, coach.

When I went to Arizona State, I wanted to be a wide receiver. Like a lot of kids playing football, you want to see your name in lights and people reading about you in the papers. Well at wide receiver, quarterback, running back, you can get that, that can happen for you. Not a lineman, Mike will tell you about that. Not at defensive back, usually. Its usually defensive backs are getting beat in those news highlights and some wide receiver is looking pretty good. But, at Arizona State, they had injuries in the secondary, and I was a freshman. It was the first year that freshman could play varsity and they moved me up to the varsity squad. I was third-string free safety. Before you knew it, I was actually starting, they had some injuries there. I got a couple of interceptions in the games, had some nice runbacks with those, showed a little bit of what I could do. The next year they made me a punt returner and I continued to play defensive back but not because I wanted to, I still wanted to be a wide receiver.

My junior year, a guy named John Jefferson who starred in the National Football League for San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers, he came to Arizona State and without a doubt probably the best receiver I ever saw. He could catch the ball like no one else. He really had it over me as a receiver and it was then that I started this trek to be a defensive back. If I was going to be one, I wanted to be one of the all-time best. And it was with hard work there, with a lot of work from a lot of coaches and a lot of players that were at Arizona State at that time. A lot of them have gone on to be stars in the National Football League, they were All-Americans in college, they were all-conference players and I don’t really have the time to mention them here. Except, I do want to say thank you to them as well because it was practicing and playing with those athletes in college that really set the tempo and the standard for me going into the National Football League. Coach Kush taught all of us to be prepared to win. To be the best that we could be. To get the most out of our abilities.

In 1976, I was the first-round draft choice of the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots were not a great football team in 1975 and because of that I was selected the fifth player in the draft, I went very high. They had defensive needs on the team. I was real fortunate I had a guy that was also drafted on that team from right here in Canton, Ohio, who went to school right here in Ohio, a guy named Tim Fox. I don’t know if you know him, but he is well recognized in the city, by the people here in Canton. But we had three first round draft choices and with three new players on the team and a few good trades, the Patriots turned their season around. We got to the playoffs; but, unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us. We got beat in the first playoff game -lost to the Raiders in Oakland. In those days, I used to hate the Raiders, I used to hate the Steelers, the Dolphins. But that was then. Now, I am a much wiser person, know when I’m outnumbered, and I’ve also learned to appreciate other teams in the league. The Patriots, although they had great coaches with Chuck Fairbanks and Perkins and Parcells and Sumner and Red Miller – they had always had great coaches and great players. But to win, you have to have commitment from the very top. I finally understood that, knew what that was all about in 1983 after I was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders.

There I got a chance to understand what winning was all about. There I got a chance to understand what it took to be a great team. It was there where I learned that yes, you have to have great coaches, committed coaches and you have to have good players, committed players, but you also have to have players that are leaders and an owner that will let them lead. Al Davis was one such owner and he had great players that wanted to be great leaders like Gene Upshaw and Art Shell and Jim Otto, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown and Ted Hendricks and George Blanda. And all of these people are in the Hall of Fame. I feel really fortunate to have played in Los Angeles and very thankful to have played for Al Davis. He gave me a chance to go back home to play in the Coliseum that I grew up watching NFL, watching NFL greats. I got a chance to play in front of my family and friends. Al, thank you very much. You have a special place in my heart and you always will, and so will the Los Angeles Raiders. Or so will the Raiders, the Raiders.

For those of you young people out there who want to play the game of football, I want you to know some of the things that it really took from me and maybe you will learn from my experience. I loved the game of football. I loved it. I reverenced it and I really appreciated it. And I knew to be a good player at that game I had to work hard. I had to understand what a hundred percent was all about and I had to understand that that goal kept moving higher because the better I got, the higher the standard became. And that’s why you hear people talk about give more than 100-percent because it is possible, because it keeps moving. So, you young people set your goals high, you know, it can happen for you. Get the most out of your abilities – that’s what Frank Kush taught us in college and that’s what I think young people who take anything seriously should try to do. Remember there are no limits.

Now, I want to thank the National Football League. I want to thank the commissioner, his staff, the officials, the Patriots, the Raider organization and their staffs and I want to thank you folks out here, the fans. Because if it wasn’t for you, there would not be a game.

I also want to thank the people who brought live action to our sport. Guys like the television crews, the announcers, the still photographers, those special individuals who really work hard. Guys like Howard Cosell – remember Howard Cosell? Howard Cosell loved Mike Haynes. Howard Cosell featured me, it seemed like, every Monday Night – if I jumped on a fumble, if I intercepted a pass, if I made a tackle that made a difference in the game. Howard Cosell, thank you buddy.

And, I also want to give a special thanks to Steve Sabol and all the talented people at NFL Films. You are the greatest filmmakers in the world. You have documented this great game for all time for everyone to appreciate and to enjoy. Thank you, Steve.

And now, I want to give a special thanks to John Bankert and the people here at the Hall of Fame. John, you and your staff, Tammy and all the others, the several thousand volunteers, you have made this special ceremony something very special for me and my family and the friends of mine that have come here and I want to thank you also from the bottom of my heart.

Now, I know I didn’t go too much over eight minutes and I think I win on my bet. However, and for those of you don’t know, it is about crying because it is an emotional experience. I actually was crying back there before I even got up to the podium. So, Deacon Jones, he wins his bet.

But anyway, everybody, I want to thank you for making this the greatest day of my life and sharing this day with me. Thank you all. God bless you.