As Bob Hayes' entangled family tree goes under the microscope and as the newspaper that for years has thrust Lucille Hester out front finally joins the investigation into the validity of her branch, one thing - and one thing only - has become clear:
The world's fastest human is quickly turning over in his grave.
This is even more sad than it is confusing.
As I wrote on Monday morning, Bob Hayes' family claims that Hester isn't his sister, but a phony. The evidence continues to pile up against her.
At this point, the Sister Act Family Feud lines up like this: Hayes' son, daughter, brother, two sisters, ex-wife and best friend in this corner vs. Hester in this corner.
Let's jump for the details:
*DNA tests notwithstanding, at the heart of the bizarre scenario is Hester for years representing herself as Hayes' "sister". To the media. To the NFL. To the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On Michael Irvin's 103.3 FM ESPN radio show yesterday she said she and Hayes shared the same father, but was somehow cloudy on who her mother was. "As for any distractions," she said, "I don't want to be a part of those." Um, too late. There's a big difference in "he's like a brother to me" and "he's my brother." It's called the truth. Even if Hester is Hayes' half-sister, she is guilty - at the very least - of misrepresenting herself and excluding Hayes' family during the Hall of Fame process. Until 105.3 The Fan's Ben & Skin first yanked back the curtain Sunday afternoon, the world that watched Saturday's Hall of Fame announcement was led to believe Hester was indeed Hayes' sister and approved family spokesperson. Both lies.
*The "poignant letter" that Hester read Saturday also remains extremely fishy. As I pointed out, Hayes' signature on the document isn't even close to the ones on his authentic memorabilia. And, read closer, the letter supposedly written by Hayes in 1999 thanks somebody named "Roger Stauback." Really? That must be at least a little troubling to a guy named Roger Staubach.
*The Dallas Morning News' late-to-the-party involvement is also mysterious. Almost as much as its original Hayes obituary from 2002, which it re-published last weekend as part of its tribute package. On one page, a Jean-Jacques Taylor piece about Hester and her tireless, selfless efforts on behalf of her brother. On another page, the obit, void of Hester's name:
Hayes is survived by a son, Bob. Jr. of Dallas; four daughters, Glenda Moore and Dr. Westine Lodge, of Jacksonville, Veronica Jenkins of Somerville, N.J., and Adrienne Thomas of Dallas; his mother, Mary Robinson; a brother, Ernest, a sister, Lena Johnson, all of Jacksonville, and eight grandchildren.
*Says Hayes' brother, Ernest: "She's just making up stuff, making up her own story. Bob wouldn't let her go around and do all that stuff. But now that he's gone she's doing what she wants."
*Says Hayes' ex-wife, Janice, who lives in Garland, "Honestly, I don't know what her agenda is. I just know he always told me she was his 'play-sister.' But never his real sister, no. He introduced me to his sisters as his sisters, but not her. I always considered to be one of his childhood friends, but not a relative."
*Says Hayes' daughter, Westine, "What I don't understand is why she's keeping all this to herself. If she's really part of our family like she says she is, why didn't she tell us to come to Tampa for the weekend. We're only 3 1/2 hours away here in Jacksonville. It's because she wants all the attention for herself."
*Says Hayes' former teammate Calvin Hill in the DMN, "All I know is Lucille was by Bob as his sister to me. ... I don't know what the DNA is, but she seemed like a great sister to me."
*So how does the NFL, the Hall of Fame and the Cowboys get duped like this? To me, it starts at the local level. Right here in our back yard. Taylor has written countless stories about Hayes' journey to the Hall of Fame, most centered on Hester. Hayes' best friend, Ted McIntosh, says he repeatedly tried to warn Taylor that Hester was misrepresenting herself. Taylor's response: I've never even talked to McIntosh. My question: If that's true, why not?
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*None of this is to undermine the positive steps Hester has taken to erect a mausoleum for Hayes or her being instrumental in getting Hayes in the Hall of Fame. But performing good works doesn't make her his sister.
*On Irvin's show, Hester said "I loved him as my little brother ..." Maybe it's just me, but I have a little brother and "I love my little brother", I don't "love him as my little brother."
By the time Hayes is officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 8, here's hoping the Hayes family will acknowledge Hester's efforts and that Hester will admit to fudging the facts.
And, mostly, that Hayes will be allowed to enjoy his deserved, long-awaited moment in peace.