This is why Charles Haley won’t get voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tomorrow. Or ever.
In 1992 the Cowboys acquired the defensive end in a trade from the 49ers. As a beat writer working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and daily covering the Cowboys at Valley Ranch, I’d heard the stories about Haley. How he alienated teammates with fits of anger and once, during a contract dispute, urinated on the car of San Francisco team president Carmen Policy.
Nonetheless, with good intentions and great hesitance, I approached Haley near his locker in his first week as a Cowboy.
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Me: “Charles we’ve all heard the rumors about you but with me it’s a clean slate. The fans are excited to have you as a Cowboy and I was wondering if I could ask a couple of questions.”
Me: “Okay, maybe later? When’s a good time?”
Haley: “For you, never.”
Me: “Um, why?”
Haley: “Because, boy, you’re white.”
And with that exchange – for reasons still unknown to me – I became Haley’s locker-room bulls-eye. Literally.
To Haley, whom I never again approached for a one-on-one interview, I wasn’t Richie Whitt. But, rather, “Richie Sh*t.”
One day in the locker room I was sitting with Troy Aikman when a big roll of athletic tape went whizzing past our heads and violently caromed off the walls of the quarterback’s locker cubicle. As we ducked, Haley – from across the room – began cackling.
“I’ll hit you next time, Richie Sh*t!” Haley yelled.
“Wow,” said Aikman. “What did you do to him?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “Absolutely nothing.”
Years later on my radio show on 105.3 The Fan we had Haley on for an interview. It was uncomfortable at best. I asked him why he hated me in particular and everyone in general.
“My meds were out of whack,” he shrugged, offering a lame explanation for his actions but nothing close to an apology. Then, on live radio, he again blurted Richie Sh*t. Funny? Sure. Meant as a term of endearment? Nope.
Problem is, it wasn’t an isolated incident. Countless media members have similar stories of run-ins with Charles Haley. And guess who makes up the 46-member panel that tomorrow morning will vote on the 2014 Hall of Fame class? Yep. Media.
You can’t treat people like roadkill for years, then ask those same folks to bestow upon you the greatest honor in your profession.
Haley was a fantastic football player. Nobody has won more than his five Super Bowl rings. No one has more than his 4.5 Super Bowl sacks. He elevated the Cowboys to three titles in four years. But Haley won’t make it in this year because Michael Strahan and Kevin Greene were better pass-rushers, and much better people.
I’m not suggesting there is a rule about bad personalities overriding good players in Canton. I’m just saying that Charles Haley’s body of work comes equipped with asterisks … and expletives.
And the consequences for his actions will be exclusion from the NFL’s most exclusive club.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.