Zimmerman: Hayes deserved to get in

Upset and frustrated with the Pro Football Hall of Fame's selection process and a failure to get former Cowboys star Bob Hayes inducted, veteran writer Paul Zimmerman has resigned from the Hall's Senior Selection Committee.

The committee nominated Hayes and former Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Bob Brown; only Brown won induction to the Hall of Fame Saturday. Brown, Carl Eller, John Elway and Barry Sanders received the necessary votes from the 39-member Board of Selectors needed for enshrinement.

"Why should we knock ourselves out all summer and present these guys just to have these assassins sit in a room and stick a knife in their back?" Zimmerman, a longtime Sports Illustrated writer, told The Dallas Morning News. "I'm not going to be their dancing bear anymore."

Hayes, a double Olympic sprint champion who went on to redefine
the role of wide receiver, made it farther than ever in the
selection process than he ever had before but still fell short.

His family believes his problems with drug addiction after his
retirement in 1975 hurt his chances, even though he had turned his
life around long before he died in September 2002.

Could the fact that Hayes played for the Cowboys be a factor? Many Dallas fans believe former members of "America's Team" have been slighted in the Hall voting over the years. Two other ex-Cowboys were also rejected this year: safety Cliff Harris and tackle Rayfield Wright. Harris made the final 10, while Wright advanced to the final six. A maximum of six can be elected in any given year.

"Who knows the twisted thinking ... in that room? There's probably some twisted Cowboys bias there," Zimmerman told The Morning News. "There are more Cowboys who deserve it. Chuck Howley deserves it. Lee Roy Jordan deserves it. But God forbid you propose those guys after what they did to these guys."

Other members of the Board of Selectors don't believe there is a conspiracy to keep the Cowboys out.

"I hope there isn't a bias," said Don Pierson of the Chicago Tribune, "but when you look at the results, you have to raise the question."

It was only the second time in the last 12 years the Hall did not have a class of at least five members. In the last 20 years, the average Hall of Fame class has been 5.1 inductees.

It will probably be years until Hayes, Wright and Harris are considered again.

Players have 25 years from the time their careers end for consideration on the regular ballot. This was the 25th year for Wright and Harris. It was the 28th for Hayes. Now, only the Senior Selection Committee, which nominates two players each year, can nominate them.

Critics of Hayes point to his low number of receptions (371) and his poor postseason totals: 10 receptions, 128 yards and no touchdowns in eight playoff games.

"I think he's in the Hall of Very Good," Sports Illustrated 's Peter King told The Morning News. King voted for Wright as a finalist but not Hayes. "I just don't think he did enough over a long enough period of time to be a Hall of Fame player."