Another Sooner leaves for the Pros

Sooner Assistant Jonathan Hayes will join the Cincinnati Bengals' staff and be reunited with his long-time friend, Marvin Lewis.

Tight end and special teams coach Jonathan Hayes has decided to accept the tight end position with the Cincinnati Bengals today. Hayes will join his childhood friend Marvin Lewis, who was just named the head coach recently and his brother Jay who was one of the first hired by Coach Lewis.

Hayes said he enjoyed his time at OU and it was a very hard decision, but he just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get back into the pro game with a very close friend.

"I have made a decision, but I still need to talk things over totally with Kris (wife) and need to sit down with Coach (Bob) Stoops, but I am going to take the position with the Bengals," said Hayes just moments ago on the phone. "If there wasn't a chance for me to coach with a great friends in Marvin Lewis and it is a chance to coach with my brother Jay, which is a dream come true. It is actually a very situation with what I went through when I came to OU with Bob, Mike and Chuck a year ago in that you have to work with people that has your back. You have to know where people are coming from and I certainly knew that at OU and will have that same kind of support. Plus it is only four hours from my folks house and it is going to be great to see them on a more regular basis"

Hayes is joining a new coaching staff with the worst team in the National Football League. However, Hayes is optimistic that they can turn the franchise around.

"I think the front office with the Bengals realize they have to make some changes if they are going to be success and the main think that needs to change is how they utilize the talents of their head coach," said Hayes. "For the past several years the front office has made most of the coaching decisions and personally decisions and that will change under Marvin. Marvin has hired his entire coaching staff and he will play a big role in the player evaluation process. The front office has promised to boost the scouting staff with and make more of a committment to winning.

Hayes coached with Bob Stoops for four years and this will be his first opportunity to coach in the pros. Serving as an assistant coach for the first time in his football career, Hayes made an immediate impact working with Sooner tight ends who had a combined seven catches in 1998 and special team units that had ranked near the bottom of the league and national standings.

In just 11 months, Hayes not only turned OU's tight ends into major contributors to the high-powered offense (53 total catches and four touchdowns), he also had the special teams ranked inside the top 10 nationally in several categories.

His pro career lasted an amazing 12 seasons in the National Football League. Hayes began his NFL career as a second-round draft choice (42nd pick overall and first tight end selected) of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1985. In his nine seasons with Kansas City he became the third-best receiving tight end in franchise history and was regarded as one of the most dominant blockers in the NFL. Playing in 168 games in Kansas City (109 as a starter), his best season came in 1993 when he recorded career-high's in receptions (24) and yards (331).

In 1994, Hayes signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an unrestricted free agent. While he recorded 18 catches for 177 yards and one touchdown in the black and gold, he was a vital part of Steeler squads that played three AFC Championship games and participated in the 1996 Super Bowl. For his career, Hayes caught 153 passes for 1,718 yards and 14 touchdowns.

A 1984 graduate of the University of Iowa, Hayes played tight end in just his final two seasons. He finished with 50 career receptions for 602 yards and five touchdowns. His first two seasons with the Hawkeyes was spent as a linebacker, including the 1982 campaign when he played on the same unit with current OU head coach Bob Stoops. Hayes earned first-team All-America honors by Gannett News Service as a senior.

Since leaving the NFL following the 1996 season, Hayes used his football knowledge and experiences in the radio and television booth's in Kansas City. He is a certified enforcement officer in the state of Missouri and has had articles published about his battle with Diabetes. His inspirational book "Necessary Toughness" detailed his fight against the condition helped him earn the "Distinguished Service to Fight Against Diabetes Award" from the Pittsburgh Diabetes Association.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories