Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The last time the late Bob Hayes was among the finalists for the Hall of Fame was 2004 in Houston. When he was passed over, there was a sense that his name might not come up again.
I remember talking to his sister Lucille that night and the family was profoundly sad that Hayes wouldn't take his rightful place in Canton.
But earlier this afternoon, the former Dallas Cowboys great finally made it into the Hall. The wide receiver whose speed forced defenses to come up with completely new coverage schemes will be part of the Class of 2009.
When Cowboys offensive tackle Rayfield Wright was voted into the Hall three years ago in Detroit, the Bob Hayes family rejoiced with him. In fact, some members of the Hayes family attended Wright's induction. That's why the first call I made after hearing about Hayes was to Wright, his close friend and teammate. Wright was driving when I reached him.
"I was so elated that I wanted to jump out of my car and start screaming," said Wright. "I talked to Bob's family this morning to let them know our prayers are with them. The only thing I hate is that he's not here to enjoy it. This was a honor he should've received a long time ago. He had an amazing impact on our team. He brought all the things he'd done in college and the Olympics to us. I think he single-handedly brought a lot more attention to the Dallas Cowboys."
In a statement, owner Jerry Jones said: "This is a deserving honor for one of the Cowboys most and truly gifted stars. We all know he changed the game on the field, but he also brought a unique star quality to the NFL that helped make professional football the most popular sport in the world. He was a world champion in two different sports, and he had a world class heart. I couldn't be happier for Bob. He was always one of my personal favorites."
In other NFC East news, former Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith was also voted in. He's more linked to the Buffalo Bills because that's where his career flourished. Redskins great Russ Grimm did not make the finals. He's a player who should eventually get in. The Hogs were too good not to have at least one representative.
But because of Hayes, this is a great day in Dallas. Now let's start discussing Drew Pearson!
Eric Allen and Qadry Ismail analyze the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009.