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Davis first learned about the value of the bump-and-run while coaching the Raiders in 1963. Standing on the sideline he would watch Denver's Willie Brown, the bump's first full-time practitioner, shut down the Raiders' best receivers. "I knew I had to get him," says Davis. He got him in 1967, and Brown played for the Raiders until 1979. Recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown is now one of the Raiders' defensive backfield coaches. He says that in Haynes, "I see all the things I taught myself."
Last year it was Haynes that Davis knew he had to get to if his Raiders were going to reach the Super Bowl. The question was how. Haynes was a free-agent holdout demanding that New England pay him more than the $210,000 he'd made the year before. A lot more money. "I didn't like holding out," says Haynes. "But I just wanted to be paid what the better defensive players in the league were getting."
Money wasn't the problem for the Raiders; compensation was. And by the time Davis worked out a deal that was agreeable to the Patriots and to Haynes's agent, Howard Slusher, the trading deadline had passed by half an hour. The league voided the deal even before Haynes could report to the Raiders.
Enter John Slusher, Howard's 15-year-old son, who pondered the deadline rule that says all trades must be completed by 5 p.m. on the day after the sixth game of the season. This generally means 5 p.m. on the Tuesday after the sixth Monday night game. But, John asked his dad, what if the Monday night game goes past midnight? Slusher Sr. hurried out and got a tape of the game, between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. "It was the game in which Ken Anderson hurt his neck," says Slusher. "And sure enough, it ended at 12:08 Tuesday morning. It was Anderson's injury that did it, all the time he spent lying on the ground." For the first time ever, the trading deadline became a Wednesday and as Slusher says, "Al wasn't half an hour late; he was 23 hours early."
The Raiders gave the Patriots two high draft choices, and Haynes signed with Los Angeles for $1.2 million for three years. It was a homecoming for Haynes. Though born in Texas, he had been raised in L.A., where he starred in track and football at John Marshall High. He would have starred in basketball, too, except he never went out for the team.
"My senior year the coach said, 'Are you coming out?' And I said, 'Yeah.' And he said, 'You better come out.' And because of that, I didn't. Nobody could tell me what to do."
Haynes didn't go to college after his senior year but instead got a job as a shipping clerk at Frederick's of Hollywood, one of the world's largest merchandisers of trashy lingerie. "I went into the store through a side door, so I didn't even see the mannequins and the displays out front," Haynes says. "I didn't know they made crotchless panties and cutout bras." His real problem, he says, was that he had "a naive sense of what the world was all about." He planned to move right up the promotional ladder, from clerk to foreman to executive.
"Someday soon I was going to be president of Frederick's," Haynes says. "Then one day my foreman took me aside and said, 'Son, I've been here 10 years in this position. And I'll probably be here 10 more years. Why don't you go to college?' "
Haynes took the man's advice and went off to ASU—which had offered him a football scholarship the year before. Once in Tempe he became an immediate starter in the secondary. His speed and long-jumping abilities (his personal best is 25'5") made him a natural at maintaining a cushion and going after the ball, and his long legs—he has a 37" inseam—made even his most energetic movements appear to be effortless. "He can catch up so fast and jump so high," says Raider free safety Vann McElroy, "that if he's within four yards of a receiver, the man's basically covered."
Still, what Haynes really wanted to be for the Sun Devils was a wide receiver, as he'd been in high school. In fact, he still wants to be one. But every year in college something would come up to keep him in the secondary—and that experience impressed New England enough for the Patriots to make him a first-round draft pick in 1976. In the pros, well, there just wouldn't be any sense in moving a man with nine years' experience and 29 career interceptions to offense. But Green Bay's Jefferson, Haynes's former teammate at Arizona State, says Mike "was always making interceptions that were better catches than the receivers he was covering could make." And as Haynes runs stride for graceful stride with Lofton, it's clear that only a man who knows what offense is all about could look that sweet on defense.