WACO, Texas (3/12/08) North Texas Hall of Famer Abner Haynes joined elite company Tuesday when he was inducted into the prestigious Texas Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in Waco. Haynes joins Joe Greene and Ray Renfro as the only former North Texas football players to be inducted into the Hall.
Haynes helped break the color barrier in Texas by becoming one of the first African-American collegiate football players in the state. Haynes and teammate Leon King joined the North Texas football team in 1956 after receiving an invitation from the coaching staff that Haynes refers to as “uncommon” among college coaches at the time.
“We had talked to several coaches in the state of Texas about me coming to play football, and North Texas was the only one that greeted me with open arms,” Haynes said.
After playing on the freshman team in 1956, Haynes became one of the most highly-touted players ever at North Texas when he starred as a running back from 1957-59. He led the team in rushing all three years and was named All-America in 1959 after leading North Texas to the Sun Bowl. He was a two-time all-Missouri Valley Conference selection and ranked in the top 10 nationally in both scoring and rushing as a senior.
He became a fifth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1960 NFL Draft but was traded to the Dallas Texans where he became the 1960 AFL Rookie of the Year. He played for five different teams during his professional career, setting three AFL records and was named to the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1991.
Haynes was inducted to the North Texas Hall of Fame in 1986, which is the same year that his former head coach at North Texas, Odus Mitchell was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Mitchell is the winningest coach in North Texas history after posting 122 wins from 1946-66.
Haynes entered the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on the same night as former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Michael Irvin, former Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes, women’s soccer star Mia Hamm, Dallas Stars and NHL hockey legend Mike Modano, former Houston Oilers All-Pro defensive player Ray Childress, women’s high school basketball legend Leta Andrews and former Cleveland Browns great Jimmy Ray Smith.