Soon after Charles Haley retired from the NFL, the Cowboys called an off-season press conference where Charles and his wife Karen revealed that their daughter Brianna was born with a rare form of leukemia. They were asking the media to help spread the word and to help find a for bone marrow donor for their daughter. The problem was that not many in the media showed up. This was a classic case of reaping what you sow. Charles had not been good to many in the media, so when he needed them, most had other stories to tell. I was there and I remember being a little embarrassed but not surprised by the turnout.
What a difference 18 years makes. Now Charles is a media darling. He has been on every TV and radio station in the area this past week flashing that toothy grin. Charles Haley is headed to the Hall of Fame and he would not be there if not for the media. Ironic? You bet. He got voted into the Hall by a group of crusty old NFL writers. Give them credit because they voted for Charles, not just because he deserves induction, but because he has changed. He is not the brooding, moody and rude man he was as a player. These days he is friendly, affable and fun.
One of the reasons he was so hard to get along with during his playing days was that Charles is bi-polar. Back then he would miss therapy sessions, skip taking his medication and left a trail of destruction in his wake. These days he is religious about seeing his counselor, religious about taking his meds, heck he is just religious. He even attends Bible Study every week. He is proof that people can change if they want to change.
Charles Haley has lots of regrets. He is not proud of the way he acted around his teammates in San Francisco or Dallas. He told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News a few years ago that he was in a constant state of trying to make reparations. He admitted that he has reached out to many former teammates, “To try to rectify some of the hurt. But a lot of times, people don’t want to go back across that bridge.”
The truth is most of his former Cowboys teammates are very happy about Charles’ induction. Michael Irvin was actively lobbying for him. The Playmaker admits he sought out Hall of Fame voters at the Super Bowl this year and asked them to strongly consider the only man ever to have won five Super Bowl Rings as a player. His lobbying and the changes that Charles has made must have worked because this summer Charles Haley will become the sixth player from the 90’s Cowboys to have his bust in Canton.
As for Brianna Haley, they did not find a donor at that poorly attended press conference in 1997, but the prayers of the Haley family were answered a few years later when her younger sister was born. She is an exact bone-marrow match for Brianna. Their five ringed father is a perfect match for the Hall of Fame.