"What's different about Mike is his presence," explains linebacker Matt Millen. "He's so straight ahead, so honest. It sounds really stupid, but he's just so nice."
Nice? Aren't these the skull-and-crossbones Raiders, the team coach Tom Flores implies he has to pacify with slabs of raw meat before he'll even enter the locker room?
"Oh, the-image," groans Millen. "When I was at Penn State, people said I was the ail-American boy who loves children and small animals—because of the pristine environment at State College. Then I come out here—the same Matt Millen—and suddenly I'm the embodiment of Attila the Hun. People think all Raiders are nasty, cheap-shot guys. But to us, all a Raider is is somebody who plays for this team."
Haynes had to consider that popular image before signing on. It was the Raiders' Jack Tatum, after all, who had paralyzed Haynes's Patriot teammate and good friend Darryl Stingley back in 1977 with a vicious hit in an exhibition game. But Tatum was gone, and the Raiders had moved from Oakland to L.A., and Haynes liked the Raiders' only stated philosophy: owner Al Davis's "Just win, baby."
"What I learned during my career was that some teams don't want to go to the Super Bowl," says Haynes. "Winning costs them money, in salaries and that. So if winning isn't the wisest thing to do, you've got to have an ego that as to win. And Al Davis has that ego. He's a contrarian. Maybe that's why I like him."
Haynes also likes the Raiders' approach to the game, their reliance on spontaneity and talk on the field. "I'd always thought pro ball would be like sand-lot ball, with quarterbacks drawing up plays and everybody making suggestions," he says. "But it wasn't. At New England the coaches called all the plays regardless of what we thought. But last season on the Raiders, for instance, a lot of Todd Christensen's receptions came on routes he made up. And Jim Plunkett was good enough to read them. That's the way it's supposed to be."
The Raiders might have won the Super Bowl without Haynes, but it's not a safe bet. Ted Watts started at right corner for the first 13 games of 1983. He performed ably, but he was a converted free safety learning the job, and Raider corners can be nothing less than superb.
"The Raider style is to attack both on offense and defense," says Al Davis. "On defense that means you rush the pocket with more than four men, and the only way you can do that is to have two great corners who can play man-to-man. If you play zone, your linebackers have to drop, and you lose the rush."
Moreover, Raider corners need to play bump-and-run man coverage. In the old days this meant lining up on top of the receiver and pounding him all over the field. Because of a rule change made in 1978, bump-and-run now means jolting him once in the first five yards and then running with him for dear life.
"Bump-and-run is a basketball concept," says Davis. "It throws the receiver's timing all to hell, and it forces the quarterback to watch the receiver all the way to know when he's open. And this gives the free safety an easy read."