Jump to content

Charles Haley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charles Haley
No. 94, 95
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born: (1964-01-06) January 6, 1964 (age 60)
Gladys, Virginia, U.S.
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:252 lb (114 kg)
Career information
High school:William Campbell
(Naruna, Virginia)
College:James Madison (1982–1985)
NFL draft:1986 / Round: 4 / Pick: 96
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles:503
Forced fumbles:26
Fumble recoveries:8
Pass deflections:3
Defensive touchdowns:1
Player stats at PFR

Charles Lewis Haley (born January 6, 1964) is an American former football defensive end and linebacker who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Francisco 49ers (1986–1991, 1998–1999) and Dallas Cowboys (1992–1996).

A versatile defensive player, Haley began his career as a specialty outside linebacker, then played as a defensive end because of a defensive scheme change from the 3–4 to the 4–3 defense. He was the first five-time Super Bowl champion; only Tom Brady, with seven titles, has won more. He won two Super Bowls with the 49ers (XXIII, XXIV) and three with the Cowboys (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX); starting in all five championship games. Haley was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Early life[edit]

Haley was born in Gladys, Virginia. He attended William Campbell High School in Naruna, Virginia, where he was a three-year starter for the football team, playing linebacker and tight end. As a senior, he received defensive player of the year honors, All-Region III and All-Group AA accolades, while helping the team win the Seminole District championship.[1] He also played basketball and was an All-district selection.

College career[edit]

Haley was not highly recruited at the start of his senior season, so he accepted a scholarship from James Madison University, which at the time was the only Division I-A or I-AA school to make an offer. He was named a starter at defensive end / linebacker as a freshman, posting 85 tackles (second on the team), 5 sacks, 6 passes defensed, and 4 forced fumbles.[2]

The next year, Haley was moved to inside linebacker, making 143 tackles (led the team) and 4 sacks. As a junior, he tallied 147 tackles (led the team), 3 sacks and 2 interceptions.[3] In his final year he was switched to outside linebacker for the last four games, registering 131 tackles (second on the team), 5 quarterback sacks, 3 blocked kicks, and one interception.[4]

Haley was a two-time Division I-AA All-American and finished his career with 506 tackles (school record), 17 sacks, and 3 interceptions.[5] Haley is a member of the Xi Delta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at James Madison.

Professional career[edit]

San Francisco 49ers (first stint)[edit]

Haley was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round (96th overall) of the 1986 NFL draft,[6] after dropping because he was initially timed at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash, although he was later clocked by a 49ers scout at 4.55 seconds. He played outside linebacker in a 3–4 defense, finished second behind Leslie O'Neal for rookies with 12 sacks and was voted to the NFL All-Rookie team by Pro Football Weekly and the United Press International. The following year, he played again in a designated pass rusher role, coming into the game in likely passing situations, while making 25 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

In 1988, Haley was named the starter at left outside linebacker, registering 69 tackles, 11.5 sacks and would hold that spot through the 1991 season. The next year, he tallied 57 tackles and 10.5 sacks.

In 1990, Haley had 58 tackles and 9 passes defensed. He was third in the league with 16 sacks, voted the UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and a consensus All-Pro.

In 1991, Haley's relationship with the organization began to deteriorate after safety Ronnie Lott was left unprotected—eligible to sign with any team under Plan B free agency. He still recorded 53 tackles, 6 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles and 7 sacks, tying for the team lead with Larry Roberts. While with the 49ers from 1986 to 1991, he led the team in sacks every season, and played on the Super Bowl XXIII and Super Bowl XXIV championship teams.

On August 26, 1992, Haley's volatile temperament and clashes with head coach George Seifert prompted the team to trade him to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a 1993 second round selection (#56-Vincent Brisby) and a 1994 third round selection (#99-Alai Kalaniuvalu).[7][8]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

In 1992, Haley was moved to right defensive end in the Dallas Cowboys 4–3 defense, made 39 tackles, 6 sacks, and 42 quarterback pressures (led the team), and helped the team improve from 17th in total defense in 1991 to first. Haley received the UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year Award and was a consensus All-Pro once again. He is often mentioned as the final piece that helped propel the Cowboys into a Super Bowl contender.[9]

In 1993, Haley made headlines after smashing his helmet through a concrete wall in the locker room following a home loss to the Buffalo Bills, showing his displeasure with the team's inability to sign holdout running back Emmitt Smith, which contributed to an 0–2 start and put the season in jeopardy.[10] The Cowboys relented and reached an agreement with Smith the following week, getting them back on track and making them the first team to win a Super Bowl after starting a season 0–2. Haley registered 41 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 passes defensed, and 3 forced fumbles, but his recurring back problems began to require a series of surgeries.

In 1994, Haley recovered from off-season surgery (lumbar microdiscectomy) to post 68 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and 52 quarterback pressures. He immediately announced his retirement after losing 38–28 to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, but decided to return after being offered a new contract.[11]

In 1995, Haley posted 10.5 sacks, 33 quarterback pressures, and 35 tackles in the first 10 games, until suffering a ruptured disk against the Washington Redskins, which derailed his season. He started in Super Bowl XXX six weeks after having back surgery, making one sack, 3 quarterback pressures, and 5 tackles.[12][13] The next year, with the team trying to limit him to 30 plays per game, he appeared in the first three contests and in week 9 and 10 before being deactivated with a back injury.[14] He retired after the season,[15] because of his back injuries and his youngest daughter Brianna being diagnosed with leukemia.[16]

San Francisco 49ers (second stint)[edit]

On January 2, 1999, Haley was signed by the 49ers after being out of football for almost two years to provide depth for an injury depleted defensive line in the playoffs (2 games).[17] He was re-signed for the 1999 season and tallied 3 sacks.[18]

Career statistics[edit]

In his 12 NFL seasons, Haley recorded 100.5 quarterback sacks, two interceptions (nine return yards), and eight fumble recoveries, which he returned for nine yards and a touchdown. He was also selected to play in five Pro Bowls (1988, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995) and was named NFL All-Pro in 1990 and 1994. In his first four seasons in Dallas, he was on three Super Bowl-winning teams: in 1992 (XXVII), 1993 (XXVIII), and 1995 (XXX). He was the first player with more than four Super Bowl Rings.


Haley was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015 after several years of eligibility and his bust was sculpted by Scott Myers. Haley felt that his election may have been delayed by his image and behavior: "I thought that what you do on the field would govern whether you get in the Hall". On August 8, 2015, Haley was inducted at the Enshrinement Ceremony where his bust was unveiled. He was also inducted into the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame in 2015.

Prior to that, Haley was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011, and the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. He was enshrined into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor on November 6, 2011.[19]

Personal life[edit]

After football, Haley was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began to undergo therapy and to take medication.[20] Haley was an assistant defensive coach for the Detroit Lions from 2001 to 2002. He is a special advisor mentoring rookies for both the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. He also has dedicated his life to help fund several local initiatives with organizations such as Jubilee Centre and The Salvation Army. He is the founder of Tackle Tomorrow which provides struggling schools in the Dallas area with reading programs and special teachers to help students improve their reading skills. Reading levels are often directly attributed to a child’s success in school and life. Tackle Tomorrow is an active foundation with support from the Dallas community and other Cowboys such as Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tony Tolbert, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and many others.

His daughter Madison Haley is a professional soccer player who most recently played for Sydney FC in the Australian A-League Women.[21]


  1. ^ Sordelett, Damien (August 8, 2015). "William Campbell football standout Charles Haley to be inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame". The News & Advance. Lynchburg, Virginia. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  2. ^ Michael, Gary (August 4, 2015). "Charles Haley: JMU Standout to NFL Hall of Famer – Part 1". JMUSports.com. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  3. ^ Michael, Gary (August 5, 2015). "Charles Haley: JMU Standout to NFL Hall of Famer – Part 2". JMUSports.com. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  4. ^ Michael, Gary (August 6, 2015). "Charles Haley: JMU Standout to NFL Hall of Famer – Part 3". JMUSports.com. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "Former JMU All-American Haley Elected to College Football Hall of Fame". JMUSports.com. May 27, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  6. ^ "1986 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 2, 2023.
  7. ^ Richards, Charles (August 27, 1992). "Haley traded to Cowboys". The Free Lance–Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "Haley's return to be one of universal wonder". Boca Raton News. Boca Raton, Florida. Associated Press. January 13, 1993. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  9. ^ Archer, Todd (January 30, 2015). "2015 Hall of Fame finalist: Charles Haley". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  10. ^ "Cowboys in chaos". Times-News. Hendersonville, North Carolina. Associated Press. September 14, 1993. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "Cowboys' Haley Sacks Plans To Retire". The Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. Associated Press. March 8, 1995. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  12. ^ "Cowboys' Haley Retires Again". The Item. Sumter, South Carolina. Associated Press. December 5, 1995. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "Cowboys' Haley ready to return". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Associated Press. January 24, 1996. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  14. ^ "Cowboys' Haley Faces Surgery Again". Star-Banner. Ocala, Florida. November 15, 1996. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  15. ^ "Dallas Loses Two Greats In Haley And Novacek". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. July 16, 1997. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  16. ^ "Charles Haley trying to find bone marrow donor for daughter". The Argus-Press. Owosso, Michigan. Associated Press. November 16, 1997. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  17. ^ "San Francisco Plans To Bring Charles Haley Back". Boca Raton News. Boca Raton, Florida. January 2, 1999. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "Haley sticks with Niners". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. July 22, 1999. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  19. ^ Watkins, Calvin (November 7, 2011). "Drew Pearson, Charles Haley honored". ESPN. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  20. ^ Townsend, Brad (January 3, 2010). "With therapy, grit, ex-Cowboy Haley tackles bipolar disorder". Dallas News. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  21. ^ Rugari, Vince (February 9, 2023). "'He knows to stay in his lane': Daughter of NFL royalty making her own name with Sydney FC". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved May 9, 2023.

External links[edit]