Before the ubiquitous burners these days at the wide receiver position in the National Football League was the Dallas Cowboys’ Bullet Bob Hayes, the 1964 Olympic gold medal winning sprinter-turned-NFL All-Pro wide receiver.
Hayes played before the days of big money in the NFL and his life took a turn for the worse in the 1970’s when he served prison time for being involved in a drug ring. Hayes died at the age of 59 in 2002 from kidney failure and is still a legend in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, but this Jacksonville Times-Union article indicates that his legendary status does not equate with a fitting resting place:
In a corner of A. Philip Randolph Park, a statue surrounded by red, white and pink flowers captures “Bullet” Bob Hayes at his Olympic peak – the 1964 Tokyo games – whizzing past the competition in the anchor leg of the 4×100 meter relay.
Yet, on the other side of the city, the final resting place for Jacksonville’s most revered athlete is nothing more than a bare patch of grass. [. . .]
In 1999, the Times-Union named the phenom who rose from poverty on Jacksonville’s Eastside to Olympic greatness, and later stardom for the Dallas Cowboys, as its Athlete of the Century.
Hayes is remembered locally as an Olympic legend for his world record performances and two gold medals in Tokyo – his anchor sprint in the relay is still considered among the fastest ever. And later, as a player in the National Football League, his unmatched speed forced defenses to revise their zone schemes. He holds 22 Dallas records, including 71 career touchdown receptions and 20 yards per catch, and is enshrined in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.
But in Edgewood Cemetery, where Hayes is buried, there seems to be a legacy deferred – an empty tract with no headstone. Times-Union reporters who visited the burial site twice, once in June and again last week, observed no marker of any sort. A Times-Union photographer on Saturday found a temporary marker at the site. [. . .]