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Former defensive back giving back to the NFL

Catching up with Mike Haynes

WESTPORT, Connecticut -- For the New England Patriots, he was a six-time Pro Bowler, was named to the All-Pro team twice and was the 1976 Defensive Rookie of the Year.

There is no doubt that Mike Haynes is one of the most gifted football players in Patriots history. A first-round draft pick (fifth overall), Haynes played defensive back and returned punts for seven seasons with New England.

Over the course of his Patriots career, Haynes recorded 28 interceptions, fifth all-time in Patriots history, and 1,159 yards on 111 punt returns, second all-time.

”I definitely enjoyed my experience (with the Patriots) and felt like I was fortunate to play with a lot of talented guys,” said Haynes. “It was the days when we had a lot of top draft choices on the team and a lot of great athletes. There were a lot of great coaches where many of them went on to become head coaches in the NFL or college and had success. More than anything else I was in the right place at the right time.”

Haynes, 51, remains involved with the NFL. In 2002 was hired by NFL as the Vice President of Player Development. He oversees programs designed to help players in a variety of matters including, career internships, financial education and management and continuing education.

“I love the job,” said Haynes. “I think it’s the first job in my life I really wanted badly. When I found it was available I called Harold Henderson and asked him to consider me. He flew me up a couple of different times to talk with him and I guess I wowed him with my passion to want the job.

“I have been enjoying it, but there have been some challenges along the way. I can’t say it’s been a super smooth transition. It’s new learning for me because my background was more in finance and licensing, but I enjoy the new challenge. I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying what I am doing now.”

Haynes resides in Westport, Connecticut with his wife. He has three children from his first marriage: Aaron, 25, Jared, 23, and Vanessa, 22. He also has three children from his current marriage Tate, 5, Ivy, 3, and Rex, 10 months.

”The first time around with my first marriage I was so committed to football and so committed to being a great player my family time really suffered,” said Haynes. “That’s one of the things I like to talk to players now is they need to appreciate things on and off the field. The things on the field are not going to last forever and the things off the field will last a lot longer.”

After playing seven seasons with the Patriots in November 1983, his contract was awarded to the Los Angeles Raiders in a settlement that gave the Patriots a No. 1 draft choice in 1984 and a No. 2 pick in 1985. Haynes played the last five games in 1983 for Los Angeles. He started for the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII, and had one interception in the 38-9 victory over the Washington Redskins.

“As a player working together with basically fifty other guys who have the same common goal it was something I was glad that came later in my career,” said Haynes. “It was a great experience and a lot of hard work that came to my expectation of what was suppose to happen. When you put in that hard work you hope that means the playoffs and Super Bowls, but that is very rarely the case.”

Haynes played a total of 14 seasons with the Patriots and Raiders and finished with 46 career interceptions for 688 yards and two touchdowns. Considered one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history, Haynes was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Patriots Hall of Fame.

“It was a dream come true,” said Haynes. “It was the first time I had reflected on my playing career and realized all the things that happened to me as an athlete. A lot of guys get emotional at the Hall of Fame when they are giving their speech and I actually got emotional even before I got up to the podium.”

Haynes still follows the Patriots very closely, especially now that he is once again living in New England.

”I follow them quite closely,” said Haynes. “The Kraft family has embraced my family and welcomed us in. I feel when I am on this side of the country I feel very much a Patriot. I enjoy watching them play and getting to know some of the guys.” 

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