Former Cowboys star Haley deserves Hall of Fame call

Posted Friday, Jan. 31, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Charles Haley is not a nice man.

He never was — on or off the field during a 13-year NFL career, including five with the Dallas Cowboys — and try as he might at times, as he has mellowed with age, he probably never will be.

What he is, however, is a Hall of Famer.

Or at least he should be.

Not only is he the scariest player in Cowboys history — to teammates, staff, reporters and opponents — but he is the only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings.

The question is whether Haley will finally get the call Saturday when the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is announced.

This is Haley’s fifth time as a finalist.

Reasons abound why he was left wanting in the past, starting with his less-than-swell personality and ugly ways with the media.

Get over it.

The Hall of Fame is not a Miss Congeniality contest.

It’s a place reserved for the best of the best in what has increasingly been revealed to be a not-so-nice game.

Football is ugly, dirty and mean. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

Haley, the dominant pass rusher on three Super Bowl title teams in five years with the Cowboys and two with San Francisco 49ers, did his job and did it well.

The other major criticism of Haley is his seemingly average numbers. His 100.5 career sacks ranks 28th all-time and he was elected to the Pro Bowl just five times.

Numbers people drive me crazy.

It’s not about stats. It’s about players. It’s about dominance.

Turn on the tape. Watch Haley play. Then cast your vote.

Leslie O’Neal, Clyde Simmons and Sean Jones have more sacks than Haley. But they are not even close to Hall of Fame worthy, which is why they are not among the finalists and never have been.

The ringless Rickey Jackson and John Randle have more sacks and are already in the Hall of Fame.

I don’t know if they were more dominant or meant more to their team’s success than Haley was in helping the Cowboys and 49ers to five Super Bowl titles.

As former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards so eloquently said: “You play to win the game.”

Nobody has more Super Bowl rings than Haley.

And this certainly wasn’t a case of riding in the back of the cab to those Super Bowls because those title teams were supposedly led by Hall of Fame offensive players — Joe Montana and Jerry Rice in 1988 and 1989 in San Francisco and Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman on the 1992, 1993 and 1995 title teams in Dallas.

Haley rode shotgun all five times.

He had 11.5 sacks on San Francisco’s 1988 championship team and 10.5 sacks on the 1989 title squad. He had 20.5 sacks during the Cowboys’ three Super Bowl seasons, including 10.5 in 1995 when he was limited by a bad back.

Haley’s 4.5 sacks are still the most by any player in Super Bowl history.

But again, it’s not about the numbers, but his dominance, impact and influence that makes him Hall of Fame worthy — especially in Dallas.

The famed Hall of Fame triplets — Irvin, Smith and Aikman — didn’t sniff the Super Bowl or meaningful playoff success until the Cowboys acquired Haley in a trade from San Francisco before the 1992 season.

He was the final piece to the puzzle. The match that lit their championship cigar.

The fire he brought to the defense with that nasty personality and demeanor was the perfect complement to the pretty boys on offense, giving the Cowboys the toughness to become multiple Super Bowl champions.

He played with passion and anger that helped inspire his teammates. He demanded excellence in practice and games and had no problem getting in the face of his teammates. He wasn’t trying to be liked. He was trying to win.

Haley’s distaste for losing was typified most in 1993 when the Cowboys started 0-2 because Smith was holding out in a contract dispute. Haley put a helmet through the locker room wall at old Texas Stadium. The reverberations were so loud and so ferocious that they likely were felt in owner Jerry Jones’ suite.

Coincidentally or not, Smith was signed the following week and the Cowboys went on to their second straight Super Bowl title.

The Cowboys have already inducted Haley into the team’s hallowed Ring of Honor — reserved for their legendary players with Hall of Fame credentials.

Now it’s time for him to be the latest member of America’s Team to be immortalized as an all-time great.

Haley is not a nice man.

But he is a Hall of Famer.

Put him in.

Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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