Mike Haynes' career has been celebrated in many forums. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Haynes, an NFL cornerback from 1976-89, was recently named as a member of the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team. In 1994, Haynes, the Patriots' first-round pick in the 1976 draft, was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame.
While Haynes' first NFL team has properly honored his time with the organization, the Raiders, who traded for Haynes in 1983, have yet to immortalize his or any other great former players' career during their time in the silver and black.
"The sad thing about the Raiders is that they don't have a Raider Hall of Fame," Haynes recently said during an interview with CBS Sports. "They could at least put Lester [Hayes] and Cliff [Branch] and Tom Flores in their own Hall of Fame. It's messed up that they don't have that. I really wish that they would change that."
Haynes, who is currently on the Board of Directors of the the Pro Football Retired Players Association, believes that a Raiders Hall of Fame could help provide awareness and appreciation for the franchise's great former players, especially the ones that may never earn their rightful place in Canton, Ohio. Players like Branch and Hayes and coaches like Flores.
"I think they both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame," Haynes said of Branch and Hayes, who won a combined five Super Bowls as members of the Raiders. "In our era, Cliff was one of the most feared guys that you were going to have to cover. He was just one of the best ever. I don't even know how to explain it.
"Even Tom Flores, I don't know how he's not in [the Hall of Fame]. I think it must be really hard on the voters. My induction year, we only had two players go in, Mike Webster and me. The standard must have been super high before, and they've changed it since. And as a result, it's harder for the guys who don't have [big numbers]. Today, Cliff would have to have like 100 catches, at least, every season. If he played under today's rules, Cliff would be like Tyreek Hill."
While they would certainly appreciate his induction into any Raiders Hall of Fame, the family of Branch, who passed away in 2019, is still holding out hope that his career will eventually earn him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"He dreamed of it. He actually thought that he was going in one day," Elaine Anderson, Cliff's sister, said earlier this year. "He talked about it. And it was like so positive: 'When I go into the Hall of Fame.' He just felt, 'Hey, I've earned it, I'm worthy, and it's going to happen.' My sadness is that he's gone now, and I still believe he's going. It's not that I don't think he's going, I'm just sad because he's not here to witness it. And I think, when you work that hard, you ought to be the one to witness your accolades, your awards."
Haynes' recent comments came shortly after Willie Anderson, a former All-Pro offensive tackle for the Bengals, called for his former team to create a Hall of Fame following the recent death of former Cincinnati defensive back Ken Riley. Riley, whose 65 career interceptions is tied for the fifth highest total in league history, has yet to earn induction into the Hall of Fame.
"I talk to guys, guys going into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame or Ring of Honor. Those guys are just as happy as making the NFL Hall," Anderson said, via Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic. "Because it's a big ceremony. It's a big deal. Damn, that's sweet, man. That's forever. The Baltimore Ravens Ring of Honor is a big freakin' deal. For most of the players, it's a big freakin' deal. Same with Pittsburgh."
As far as the Raiders are concerned, creating a team Hall of Fame now would be an appropriate way to help bring some of their tradition from Oakland and Los Angeles with them to Las Vegas. And while the Raiders are surely focused on the future, a nod to their rich past would be appreciated by the players who helped them reach their current level of prosperity.