The Pro Football Hall of Fame will be inducting Charles Haley in a little over two weeks as part of their 2015 class. Haley split his time between the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, but it will be former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo who will present the fearsome pass rusher for induction.
The HOF conducted conference calls this week with all of the living inductees, and Thursday morning was Charles Haley's turn. I've embedded the audio below, and I think it is worth a listen. Haley had all kinds of interesting things to say about his life now, and his time with the 49ers.
The 49ers traded Haley following the 1991 offseason following various personal conflicts he had with players, coaches and others in the organization. Haley spoke about his departure, and talked about how angry he was. He said there was a lot of bad blood and he was mad at the world.
He pointed fingers at the people he felt had betrayed him, but now he looks back and recognizes he did not look inward at his own contributions to the situation. In the ensuing years, he started to attend DeBartolo charity events and slowly restore his relationship with the 49ers. He eventually ended his career there with two seasons in 1998 and 1999. Following his career, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which I imagine went a long way to help him understand his behavior during his playing days.
Part of the reason he re-connected with the 49ers was his relationship with Bill Walsh. Haley said that part of the reason the bad blood had gone away was how Walsh treated him after he left the 49ers. Walsh apparently stayed in contact with Haley, even when he was with the Cowboys, and continued to stay in touch after his playing days. Haley said that Walsh even called him a few days before his death to ask if there was anything he could for Haley.
Haley had a chance to discuss his relationship with Aldon Smith. Haley and Smith have had a chance to connect, and even work together on the field to a modest extent. Haley talked about how Smith is a good kid, but has at times surrounded himself with the wrong people and been pushed in the wrong direction. I think that might take too much of the blame off of Smith for his own actions, but it is part of the bigger issue at least.
Haley has told Smith his own past haunted him, and he recognized he needed to make a change. He pointed out that Smith will not get the benefit of the doubt any more because of his history, and so the onus is on him moving forward.
While Haley spent time with Smith, he also met with the 49ers rookies. He talked to them about staying focused and avoiding trouble. The line of the call might have been this one:
Haley said he told 49ers rookies 'Why don’t you all act like the white guys? You never see them in the paper getting high or hitting people'— Cam Inman (@CamInman) July 23, 2015
More Haley 'I just did it for the shock value of it. We need to have people to follow and set examples, like Joe, Ronnie, Jerry Rice, Keena'— Cam Inman (@CamInman) July 23, 2015
As Matt Barrows pointed out, of the 49ers seven arrests since 2012, three have involved white players. And as Haley pointed out, it's obviously not just some of the white players that stay out of trouble.