Historical Weekend In The World Of Sports
Two sports figures made history last weekend with one being honored posthumously for the way he changed the game of football while the other is blazing a trail that may never be equaled in the world of golf.
We’re referring to former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes finally being inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday and Tiger Woods for winning his 70th Pro Tour golf tournament at the tender age of 33. Of course if you subscribe to Orange’s only daily newspaper you wouldn’t know about Tiger’s win because someone didn’t think that story was important enough to make Monday’s sports section.
After winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics, “Bullet” Bob Hayes decided he wanted to use his speed on the football field and the Dallas Cowboys gave him that shot by signing him to a rookie contract in 1965.
It was highly unusual for a world-class sprinter to be able to withstand the rigors and physical punishment that accompanies a career in the National Football League, but Hayes seemed up to the task. Most sprinters had iron hands and couldn’t even catch a football, but Hayes had soft hands.
Hayes also had an extra gear that would enable him to blow past the defensive backs and run under long passes thrown by such Cowboy quarterbacks as Don Meredith, Craig Morton or Roger Staubach.
And just to show he wasn’t afraid to get hit, Hayes also ran back punts for the Cowboys. He led the NFL in total punt return yardage in 1967 and in yards per punt return the following year with an average of 20.8 yards per return—a mark nobody has yet to get within two yards of since 1968.
When this Korner worked full-time for that Orange daily newspaper, we ventured to the Cotton Bowl, which was the Cowboy’s home field back then on an assignment to interview the Pokes’ head trainer, Larry Gardner, who lived across the athletic dormitory hall from us when we both were students at McNeese State.
Larry hails from Sulphur, La. and was finishing his undergraduate work while assisting the late Doc Fontenot in the Cowboys’ training room. He was hired by the Dallas Cowboys upon graduation from Physical Therapy school in Galveston.
Gardner gave us a real good interview, pointing out such items like tight end Mike Ditka being allergic to grass. “He has to take about 20 shots every day just to practice with the team,” Gardner pointed out.
Then he pointed to the other side of the training room and said, “Look at those leg muscles on Bob Hayes. That’s what makes him so fast and he lives up to his nickname of Bullet Bob. Having Hayes on offense has changed the passing game in the NFL completely.”
Hayes led the NFL his rookie year and the following season, surpassing the 1,200 yard mark that stood as a team record for 25 years. He continued to lead the Cowboys in receiving and punt returns and helped Dallas win their first Super Bowl in 1971.
Hayes became the first NFL player to win an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring and he still is the only person to accomplish that feat.
This Korner still can’t understand what took so long for the NFL to induct Bob Hayes into the Hall of Fame. After all, he averaged more yards per punt return than Deion Sanders, more yards per catch than Randy Moss, scored more touchdowns than Michael Irvin and averaged a touchdown every 5.2 catches, compared to 6.8 catches for Terrell Owens and every 7.9 catches for Jerry Rice.
Bullet Bob Hayes on Saturday became the 11th Cowboy inducted into the Hall of Fame and joined Jim Thorpe as the only gold medalists in Canton.
As for Tiger Woods, his resume continues to surpass all of the former golfing greats. After gaining on three-day leader Padraig Harrington in last weekend’s World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, O. and trailing him by three strokes at the start of Sunday’s final round, Tiger blew past the Irishman by shooting four-under-par on the first five holes.
Harrington played well enough on the front nine to have all pars, but his 35 was overshadowed by Tiger’s 30.
A birdie by Harrington and a couple of bogeys by Woods reversed the lead early on the back nine and Tiger found himself behind by one shot going into the Par 5 No. 16, dubbed “The Monster” because of its 647-yard length and the water in front of the green.
And the hole turned out to be just that for the Irishman, whose third shot from the collar of a bunker flew over the green, his fourth shot came out of the thick grass hot and plopped into the pond, so when the dust had settled Harrington carded a triple-bogey 8.
Tiger, in the meantime used an eight-iron from 178 yards out and stuck it a foot from the hole for a tap-in birdie and a three-shot lead. Woods birdied No. 18 just for good measure to win by four shots over Harrington and Robert Allenby, who both posted scores of 272.
Tiger shot 65 for his fifth tourney win this year and became the first player in PGA history to win seven times on the same golf course. It was Woods’ 70th PGA Tour victory which puts the 33-year old phenom in third place on the all-time winner’s list. Jack Nicklaus won his 70th tournament when he was 40 and Sam Snead did it when he was 41.
Tiger hopes that winning tournaments the last two weeks will give him the necessary momentum to win the PGA, the final major tourney of the year that begins Thursday at Hazeltine.
KWICKIES…Sunset Grove Country Club golfers Craig and Elva Couvillion played in a two-day couples’ tournament at Ville Platte last weekend and fired rounds of 74 and 71 to win first place in their flight.
Houston Astros talented minor leaguer Koby Clemens is having a great year at the plate this season in Class A with a .341 batting average, 23 home runs and 96 RBIs. The son of controversial Cy Young Award pitcher Roger Clemens swings the bat much better than his old man could ever dream of doing.
The NFL exhibition season got under way Sunday night in the Hall of Fame game at Canton, Ohio as the Tennessee Titans, dressed as the Houston Oilers of the old AFL, downed Terrell Owens and his Buffalo Bills teammates 21-18. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
The Houston Astros began a seven-game road trip Monday with four games at hot and humid Miami against the Florida Marlins and three at Milwaukee. The ‘Stroes beat the Brewers in two of three games at Minute Maid Park last weekend and stand at 55-56 in third place in the NL Central Division, six games behind St. Louis.
JUST BETWEEN US…Orange County high school football teams will have their hands full in their first scrimmages of the season Saturday as the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears travel to Crosby to meet always-tough Texas City, the Orangefield Bobcats entertain the high-flying Vidor Pirates Saturday morning, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs host scrappy Dayton, Bridge City will be at Lumberton while Deweyville visits powerful Kirbyville. Most of the varsity scrimmages will be around 7 p.m., except for Orangefield-Vidor which will be around 10 a.m.