Lester Hayes, long banished from Raider headquarters, reappeared Thursday in the flesh and sweat clothes, working out and vowing to return.
This had been deemed impossible. Hayes was thought to have been placed on injured reserve as a prelude to being cut.
But since both the Raiders' starting cornerbacks are injured, and since Hayes says that an influential Raider executive is pulling for him, anything could happen.
"Coach (Al) Davis told me I can be back between 7 and 10 days," Hayes said. "He said I can come back for the last two games. He said I should see coach Jim Bush (Raider running coach) and coach John Dunn (the strength coach) and I'll be in fairly good shape."
Hayes had said he was suffering with two toes damaged by pain-killing injections, which he named his "troglodyte toes." He says the fifth specialist he consulted has helped him.
"He gave me nerve-blocking shots," Hayes said. "I feel auspicious. I've been rebuilt. I feel like new money. I feel like Bernard King.
"I thank God for it. I was almost psyched out to the point where I believed what I was hearing--that I couldn't play anymore.
"It doesn't make any difference if individuals think I can't do it. They're mere mortals.
"In 1977, I was told I couldn't play, and the same thing has happened again. They say, 'Now Judge, either go on waivers or retire.'
"I'm back. So be it."
Hayes says he he will do anything to help--play on special teams, whatever. He has a few regrets, among them that the Raiders have already played Denver twice, so he won't get a chance to face the Three Amigos--wide receivers Vance Johnson, Mark Jackson and Ricky Nattiel.
"On the very first play, I would have adjusted the eyebrows of all three amigos," he said.
Hayes said all this during an impromptu visit to the press room.
"It looks like we have to write another story, right Judge?" someone said.
"It's y'all's destiny, gentlemen," Hayes said.
Raider Notes The Raiders are listing left guard Charlie Hannah as doubtful for Sunday's game against Buffalo. He has a torn calf muscle. Bill Lewis will probably return, making this the Raiders' sixth offensive line in nine regular games. . . . The Raiders put fullback Steve Smith, linebacker Jeff Barnes and tackle Chris Riehm on injured reserve--meaning they're gone for the season--and have re-signed cornerback Rod Hill, wide receiver David Williams and lineman Dwight Wheeler.