Charles Haley Opens Up About Mental Illness Battle

The former Dallas Cowboys star now mentors children and pro athletes

Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley sits atop a prestigious list. He is the only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings – three with the Dallas Cowboys and two with the San Francisco 49ers.

But it's not X's and O's he is talking about these days. Haley is taking a courageous stand, opening up about his mental illness and the signs he wishes he'd seen much earlier in life.

"I'll be honest, I should have known as a kid. I didn't like my brothers because they picked on me. Everything in life I saw different, I saw totally different," Haley said in an interview with NBC 5's Meredith Land. "I went to college and I hurt people or didn't have friends there either."

When Haley went to the NFL, he quickly became known for his temper.

"Only thing I knew was I would come in on top of the world, bouncing off of cloud nine and then would come in for three to four weeks and wouldn't talk," Haley said.

His unpredictability cost him his first job in San Francisco. Haley says he butted heads with players and coaches.

"I would destroy the locker room. It was an out-of-body experience. I would stand there watching me do all this crazy stuff and then it was like, 'Oh (expletive),' and then I would put my clothes on and went home because I knew I was fired," Haley said.

But he says what haunts him most is what is family endured.

"When I got through playing, I would stay in my house and my kids would put food at the door because I would be so depressed I couldn't get out of bed. They didn't want to open the door because they didn't want the explosion or whatever. Those things still haunt me," Haley said.

After years of denial and three years out of the NFL, Haley says he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002.

"If you want to call me that I have a mental illness, you put at the end, 'but he's happy,' but that's because I sought help and I get help and I take my medicine," Haley said.

Today, he is a mental health advocate. He mentors kids and professional athletes. His new book, "Fear No Evil: Tacking Quarterbacks and Demons on My Way to the Hall of Fame," shares some important truths, including his family's forgiveness.

"They gave me so many chances. And, you know, when I started taking my medicine I got my family back, and that's something I never thought I would ever get back," Haley said.

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