Chuck is popping up all over… now he’s weighing in on playing in the NFL on nba.com.
LeBron James isn’t the only former All-State wide receiver collecting NBA paychecks these days.
Rockets forward Chuck Hayes spent some time lighting up the gridiron in high school as well, as a jumbo receiver at Modesto Christian in California.
“If I’d have stuck with football through school and straight on to college I might have done well,” Hayes said Friday afternoon. “But the transformation from college football to the NFL, that has to be huge. I think if LeBron had stuck with it he would have done well. And we all like to toot our own horn.
“But the demands of the game, the Xs and Os, the blocking schemes and … there’s just so much to it, so much to it. Again, the physical demands of that game are so tough. I think you’d have to have a real passion for that to stick to it.”
Hayes said he simply did not have that passion. After earning All-State honors he gave up football after his junior year of his school.
“I played because all my homeboys played,” Hayes said. “But I hated going across the middle. I made my slant route look like a post route. And by the time my senior year rolled around I had more top notch colleges looking at me for basketball than I did for football. I made my decision right there.”
Interest from the likes of Notre Dame and UCLA couldn’t sway him to football. Not with Kansas and Kentucky, where he starred in college, calling.
These days Hayes is happy in his role starting for the Rockets, 7-5 heading into tonight’s game against the Hawks. He’ll leave all the football talk for James and other dual sport alums like Nate Robinson (who starred as a cornerback in college at Washington before deciding to stick with basketball) and Allen Iverson.
“You can’t imagine the physical pounding they must take,” Hayes said of NFL players. “I give those guys the utmost respect. In that game, every inch counts. They hit hard and they’re so strong. The speed of the game is probably faster than I think, and I don’t mind giving them credit on that.
“You have defensive lineman running around out there with 4.6 speed. That means he’s catching me. It’s such a pounding on your knees and your body. You always see those [NFL] guys at the end of a season having this surgery and that surgery. It’s just not for me. Again, I give those guys the utmost respect because they obviously do their jobs very well.”E-mail Sekou