NFL Hall of Fame inductee Charles Haley has some advice for San Francisco 49ers rookies for staying out of trouble: “act more like the white guys.”
A five-time Super Bowl champion who played for the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, Haley is scheduled to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on August 8. Prior to his NFL career, he played college ball at James Madison University and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Admitting to an abrasive demeanor with coaches, teammates, and reporters during his playing days, which may have prevented his Hall of Fame election in prior year voting, Haley was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after he retired, the Dallas Morning News reported in 2010.
Presumably against the backdrop of so many pro football players having run-ins with the law, Haley, who has mentored younger NFLers after turning his own life around, revealed to the San Jose Mercury News the controversial recommendation that he passed along to 49ers rookies when he spoke to them in May.
“As far as the rookies, and I know they probably got mad, but I said, ‘Why don’t you all act like the white guys? You never see them in the paper getting high or hitting people. Why don’t you act like that?’ They all looked at me crazy.”
The ex-NFL star defensive specialist with 498 career tackles and 100.5 sacks added that he offered this guidance for what he called its shock value.
“The hardest thing is these guys, they have an attention span of a 5-year-old. I’m not the most gentle and kind person to sit there and deal with that crap. I’m a little more confrontational. I think I got my point across.”
He also stressed that NFL rookies and other players new to the league should seek out and emulate positive role models.
Haley’s comments to the news outlet subsequently prompted some level of discussion on Twitter, a response which is still unfolding.
“Immediately after word came out of Haley’s comments, people took to social media to discuss their thoughts. Many people criticized what Haley had to say, claiming that if his comments had been said by a white man, they would have garnered more attention,” the Daily Mail observed.
According to Sporting News columnist Rana L. Cash, Charles Haley’s racially charged remarks served as a missed opportunity.
“To say someone should ‘act white’ is a shallow, short-sighted insult, regardless of race… Haley could have told the players to be gentlemen. Live a life of unquestioned integrity, on and off the field…”
Added Yahoo! Sports about the Charles Haley advice to rookies, “Haley embodies a do-as-I-say, not-as-I-did approach; he was a legendarily destructive force both on the field and in the locker room. The 49ers grew so tired of his problems that they dealt him in 1992 to then-rival Dallas, and Haley carried anger for that deal for many years afterward. He retired in 1999 after a short reunion with the 49ers.”
[Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images Sport]