William Hayes said a lot of funny things on Thursday, pontificating on UFOs (they’re real), dinosaurs (they’re not) and mermaids (more evidence needed).
But he also said something serious, and that more than anything else should make Dolphins fans (not to mention Miami’s 2017 opponents) stand up and take notice.
“I’ve got a lot left in the tank,” the 32-year-old defensive end said. “I still don’t think there’s a man in the NFL that’s going to knock me off the line of scrimmage. That’s not being arrogant; that’s just what it is.”
The Dolphins traded for Hayes in March because they couldn’t stop the run last year, and Hayes stops the run very well.
Hayes called himself one of the league’s best edge-rush defenders, “point-blank-period,” and said his job here in Miami is to maintain outside containment.
“I’m not coming here and telling myself I can be a third-down pass rusher over Cam Wake,” Hayes said. “I know that sounds ignorant. He’s the best left end in the NFL when it comes to getting after the ball. I think we’re going to complement each other real well. I know if I can get teams to second-and-long, third-and-long, he’s going to come in there and be able to do damage.”
Hayes has a decade of film to back up his big talk. And the stats tell the tale, too. His defenses regularly rank in the top half against the run.
And yet, all anyone seemingly wants to ask him about are his non-conformist theories.
Hayes is a skeptic by nature. If he hasn’t seen something with his own eyes, he has trouble believing it happened. He thinks the moon landing was staged. He thinks dinosaur artifacts were planted. And Ariel might be out there somewhere.
And while he doesn’t proselytize, Hayes stands his ground with his more incredulous teammates.
“We ain’t really talked about it too much,” he said. “The one time I brought it up, they just told me to shut up. It was real quick. I tried to explain myself, but [Andre] Branch and Wake said, ‘We ain’t trying to hear all that around here.’ We all laughed about it, and that was kinda it. I was trying to explain my theory on dinosaurs, but they weren’t really trying to hear it. Yeah, I don’t believe a T-Rex ever walked this earth.”
Hayes thinks he could have a sympathetic ear in Ndamukong Suh but hasn’t had the chance to discuss it with him yet. And he could “absolutely” convince coach Adam Gase to join his side.
Hayes doesn’t seem bothered by having his theories shut down — by both colleagues and the scientific community.
“It’s my beliefs,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect nobody else to believe in them. I don’t really mind what nobody else thinks.”
Hayes’ personality was a perfect fit in Los Angeles, where he spent the 2016 season. He even toured the Natural History Museum with Jimmy Kimmel, who tried to convince him dinosaurs did indeed rule the world.
But after a long career with coach Jeff Fisher, Hayes was traded to Miami not long after the Rams changed coaches.
His reaction to the news?
“What’s going on?” Hayes said. “I was at a charity event, and I just got a call saying you’re being traded.”
Hayes’ time in South Florida might be a one-year proposition. He asked the Dolphins to shave the final year off his contract, and they agreed. Hayes’ thinking was sound: He’s on the wrong side of 30 for an NFL player and the sooner he gets to free agency the higher the chance of one last payday.
But after spending the past two months around the organization, Hayes has a different perspective.
“My goal is to finish a Dolphin,” he said. “I have no intentions of going anywhere. If I would have realized how much I love this organization, I probably wouldn’t have considered [changing my contract].”