Rattler Football Great Among 29 HBCU Legends to be Recognized in February
Robert “Bullet Bob” Hayes, undoubtedly the greatest male student-athlete produced by the legendary athletic program at Florida A&M University (FAMU), will be among the 29 historically Black college and university (HBCU) gridiron greats honored in February by the National Football League (NFL) during the Super Bowl LI festivities in Houston, Texas.
In December 2016, the NFL joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia to kick off an enhanced partnership initiative titled, “Strength of HBCUs: Impacting Pro Football Since 1948.” The goal of the partnership is to honor the history and impact of HBCUs and their players and increase career opportunities for students and athletic administrators at these institutions.
The NFL announced that its celebration of the influence of HBCUs and their players will continue at this year’s Super Bowl, where it will honor the 29 Pro Football Hall of Fame players who attended HBCUs, culminating with an on-field, pregame ceremony featuring the Hall of Famers at NRG Stadium on Sunday, February 5, 2017.
Hayes was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in July 2009, seven years after his death in September of 2002, at the age of 59. The legendary two-sport Rattler was credited by many with revolutionizing the game of professional football with his world-class sprinter’s speed. In addition to a successful career with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and a stint with the San Francisco 49ers, Hayes was an Olympic gold medalist, and earned the nicknames, “Bullet Bob” and “World’s Fastest Human.”
FAMU’s Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., expressed the University’s appreciation for the NFL’s commitment to HBCUs, and for the unique way it will honor one of the institution’s most beloved sons.
“I commend the NFL for honoring Bob Hayes along with the other well-deserving HBCU greats,” Robinson said. “I look forward to representing FAMU and Rattler sports at one of the world’s most widely viewed athletic events.”
He added, “The University has worked with the NFL on several previous occasions, including our Marching ‘100’s’ performance at Super Bowl XLI with the late music legend, Prince. We look forward to a growing and fruitful relationship with one of the most influential brands in the world.”
In a recent statement, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said, “the HBCU influence on the NFL goes beyond the evolution of the game and reaches deep into the very fabric of football.”
“Our partnership with the HBCUs is an important initiative which celebrates the tremendous legacy fostered by these institutions that continue to contribute a standard of excellence and character for our game,” Vincent said.