‘And they are from Buffalo!’

CANTON, Ohio — The new press box at Fawcett Stadium is gorgeous, but it can get a little dusty in there when the inductees are speaking, especially when players are being honored posthumously. Which is really a manly way of saying that people were getting emotional and some eyes were welling up in the press box. Well, at least the regular people, not the sportswriters who are somehow carved out of stone.

So it was a nice touch when Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach opened his speech about late Cowboys teammate Bob Hayes by introducing the Hayes family — and said that they were from Buffalo, which elicited a big response from the Buffalo-partisan crowd. Staubach was kidding, of course — even saying he thought he would have had a bigger response — but the break in the tension was a welcome relief.

Staubach touched on the impact of Hayes’ career, especially the early part that the QB watched on film in Vietnam while serving in the United States Navy. Former Cowboys director of player personnel Gil Brandt confirmed that he would send Staubach film and footballs to keep him sharp. Brandt even recalled one letter in which Staubach mentioned that a mortar shell had landed 15 yards from the tent and blew up all of the footballs and asked if he could send more.

Brandt later shared that he had to do some work to keep Hayes out of Vietnam. Unmarried men were being moved to the top of the draft list, so Brandt urged Hayes to get married. In a matter of days, Brandt had found a judge and a best man — scout Dick Mansberger — to get Hayes married before the deadline and keep him playing football in Dallas.

Adam Rank

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