Lester Hayes

American football player (born 1955)

American football player
Lester Hayes
No. 37
Personal information
Born: (1955-01-22) January 22, 1955 (age 69)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
High school:Wheatley
(Houston, Texas)
College:Texas A&M
NFL draft:1977 / Round: 5 / Pick: 126
Career history
  • Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders (1977–1986)
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:572
Fumble recoveries:7
Defensive touchdowns:5
Player stats at PFR

Lester Craig Hayes (born January 22, 1955) is an American former professional football cornerback who played for the Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders of the National Football League (NFL).

Hayes was commonly referred to as "the Judge" and "Lester the Molester" because of his bump-and-run coverage.[1] He had a distinct stance, crouching very low when facing the opposing wide receiver. He was also known for using stickum before it was banned in 1981 by a rule bearing his name. He had been introduced to it by Fred Biletnikoff, who unlike Hayes, has made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Hayes shares the all-time club record in interceptions with 39 with Willie Brown.[2] Hayes' season with 13 interceptions in 1980 is tied for second-most in a season all-time and the most in the last 40 seasons.[3]

College career

In college starting in 1973, Hayes played for the Texas A&M Aggies. He first played defensive end as a freshman and then linebacker and safety as a sophomore. During his junior and senior years, Hayes settled in as a safety and became an All-American for his play at safety.[4]

Professional career

Hayes was converted to cornerback after being chosen by the Raiders in the fifth round of the 1977 draft. Hayes helped contribute to the Raiders' two Super Bowl wins in 1980 and 1983. Hayes was a one-time All-Pro (1980) and a five-time Pro Bowler (1980–1984).

Hayes was known as one of the greatest shutdown cornerbacks in NFL history. In 1980, he led the NFL with 13 interceptions, tied for second-most with Dan Sandifer, who had set it in 1948, and behind Dick "Night Train" Lane with 14 in 1952, and was named AP Defensive Player of the Year[5] and the NEA Defensive Player of the Year. Hayes added five more interceptions in Oakland's three playoff games, as they advanced to a victory in Super Bowl XV

A big Star Wars fan, during pregame interviews for Super Bowl XVIII, Hayes declared himself the "only true Jedi" in the NFL.[6] His best performance was probably in Super Bowl XVIII. Hayes had only one tackle, but that was because he so effectively covered Charlie Brown and Art Monk that Joe Theismann hardly threw to the left side of the field.[7] During his last four seasons, he formed a partnership with Mike Haynes that has been considered one of the best in league history. Hayes and Haynes gave the Raiders the luxury of having two shutdown corners. They are widely reckoned as being the prototypes for a generation of speedy and physical cornerbacks.[8]

Hayes retired after the 1986 season with a total of 39 interceptions (including four defensive touchdowns), a Raider record shared with Hall of Famer Willie Brown. He moved to Modesto, California in 1994 for a more "quiet life."[9]

In 2012, the Professional Football Researchers Association named Hayes to the PFRA Hall of Very Good Class of 2012.[10]

Stickum usage

Hayes was introduced to Stickum, an adhesive substance used by players to improve their grip, in his 1977 rookie season by Hall of Fame wide receiver and fellow teammate Fred Biletnikoff. Instead of just applying a small amount to his hands, though, he began to slather it all over his arms and even his uniform, drawing more and more attention to it.[11] Hayes later described the influence the adhesive had on his career, saying that before being introduced to it in his rookie year, he "couldn't catch a cold in Antarctica".[12]

The use of Stickum was banned by the NFL after the 1980 season. In the six seasons that Hayes played following the banning of Stickum, he had 14 total interceptions, compared to the 25 that he had in his first four seasons. However, he was named to the Pro Bowl and selected as a second-team All-Pro four times after 1980.[13] Hayes later stated that alongside lingering thumb injuries, the Stickum ban contributed to a decline in his later career.[12] Fred Biletnikoff and Jerry Rice, both of whom have admitted their usage of Stickum, have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Hayes has not been.[14] He was a finalist four times (2001–2004) and a semifinalist six times (2005–2010).


  1. ^ "Video". CNN. October 5, 1981.
  2. ^ Lester Hayes NFL Hall of Fame Sports Illustrated [dead link]
  3. ^ "NFL Interceptions Single-Season Leaders (Since 1940)". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  4. ^ "Today in Aggie History: Football great Lester Hayes was born". My Aggie Nation.com. BH Media Group, Inc. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Lowitt, Bruce (January 8, 1981). "Lester Hayes picks off defensive player award". Beaver County Times. Associated Press. p. B-1. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  6. ^ Super Bowl by the Bay, p.51, (c)1984 by Bohn & Bland Publishers, Inc.
  7. ^ McGinn, Bob (2009). The Ultimate Super Bowl Book. Minneapolis: MVP Books. ISBN 978-0-7603-3651-9.
  8. ^ "Before Revis and Cromartie there was Haynes and Hayes". The New York Times. September 24, 2011.
  9. ^ Kroichick, Ron (December 31, 2000). "Hayes Now Leads the Quiet Life / Former scourge of the..." SFGATE. Retrieved November 27, 2023.
  10. ^ "Hall of Very Good Class of 2012". Archived from the original on September 13, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  11. ^ Kaplan, Emily (July 14, 2015). "History of the NFL in 95 Objects: Stickum". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Kroichick, Ron (December 31, 2000). "Hayes Now Leads the Quiet Life / Former scourge of the secondary has exchanged partying for religion". SFGATE. Retrieved November 22, 2022.
  13. ^ Chadiha, Jeffri (August 9, 2007). "Notorious image sticks with these Raiders". ESPN. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  14. ^ "Jerry Rice on stickum use: 'All players did it'". February 7, 2015.
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Oakland Raiders 1977 NFL draft selections
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Oakland Raiders Super Bowl XV champions
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Los Angeles Raiders Super Bowl XVIII champions
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