Hayes coming to Carson City
November 23, 2004
One of the Raiders all-time greats will be coming to lend a helping hand to Carson City Raiders Booster Club for its biggest fund-raiser of the year.
Lester Hayes, who played cornerback for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1977-1986, will be the featured guest during the booster club’s annual Christmas Commitment fund-raiser. The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28 at the Pinon Plaza’s Lizard Lounge.
The event will be held in conjunction with Sunday night’s Raiders/Denver Broncos game which will be televised by ESPN. Cost is $5 for nonmembers and free for booster club members.
Funds will be used to adopt homebound senior citizens for Christmas. A live auction will also be held at halftime.
Hayes was a five-time Pro Bowler from 1980-1984. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Raiders out of Texas A&M in 1977.
“I can remember going into the 1977 NFL draft, I told teams not to draft me, with the exception for the Dallas Cowboys,” Hayes said. “Dallas was the only team that I showed up on time for scouts. The Houston Oilers was my second team. This was because I was a Texan, and I was programmed to favor these two teams.
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“There was a fictitious rumor that said Lester Hayes may have difficulty playing in the NFL. And this is why I was the 14th safety drafted in 1977. But I am thankful to be a Raider. And I am thankful to Mr. Davis, Charlie Sumner, and my defensive staff.”
Hayes career took off when Charlie Sumner became the Raiders’ defensive coordinator.
“In the days of old when Charlie Sumner became our defensive coordinator in 1979, my life changed,” Hayes said. “The defensive tactics changed, allowing my confidence level to increase to the 10th power. The most important factor in the National Football League on the football battlefield is confidence and the need to trust your leader.
The trust level was intensified upon the arrival of Coach Sumner. When a player trusts and loves his leader 110 percent from a defensive standpoint, they will do anything. If we had to, we would walk through a round of pitbulls wearing pork chop underwear. That is love. And we believed that we would not be bitten.”
Hayes, who was moved to cornerback to by the Raiders, credited his teammates for allowing him to play the bump and run coverage defense that he was so famous for.
“Speaking from a bump and run mentality, some of my best friends were my defensive front seven, my sack men,” Hayes said. “Playing bump and run cornerback, to maintain a level of consistent confidence, the defensive seven had to apply pressure especially on passing downs. Coach Sumner would never rush just four players on passing downs. He would always blitz seven or eight or even nine players. Our focus was to bend the opponents’ concentration. And we were very successful at that defensive battlefield, football tactic.”
Hayes’ bump and run coverage was considered one of the keys to the Raiders’ two wins in Super Bowl XV over the Philadelphia Eagles and Super Bowl VXIII over the Washington Redskins. But Hayes was again quick to credit his teammates.
“During the Super Bowl XVIII season, the three most important players on the left side of the defensive formation were Howie Long, Ted Hendricks and Mike Davis,” Hayes said. “When Mike Davis became a starter in Super Bowl XV, he did such a stupendous job enabling me to be free for bump and run pass coverage. Playing for the “old school” Oakland Raiders, we played like a team of gladiators. We showed men no mercy. We took their will to fight. And we did this by our leaders, Coach Sumner and the defensive staff.”
Hayes lived through the Northridge earthquake in 1994, which turned out to be an event that changed his life.
“There was extensive damage done to my home,” he said. “I needed six months of repairs done. So I had a choice to spend that six months time period with my friends in Vegas or stay in Modesto, Calif. The hand of God led me to Modesto, and I began dating the first Christian lady of my life. And she introduced me to God. My destiny was then to learn the complete destiny of forgiveness.”
What: Carson City Raiders Booster Club annual Christmas Commitment fund-raiser
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28
Where: Pinon Plaza, Lizard Lounge
Cost: $5 per non-member entry; free to members
Funds used to “adopt” homebound senior citizens at Christmas
Also: Live auction at half-time