I'm not going to argue the merits of Charles Haley's football career. As one of the most fierce pass-rushers of his era, he won five Super Bowl rings.
The dude belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, just not the Cowboys' Ring of Honor.
Simple, he's not one of "ours."
I covered Haley as a beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in the '90s. I saw how offenses forced to double-team him elevated the play of linemen like Tony Tolbert and Russell Maryland and Tony Casillas and Jimmie Jones and Leon Lett. He was valuable, no doubt. But those teams were pretty talented in case you don't remember.
I've heard it said in the wake of Haley's enshrinement that "the Cowboys wouldn't have won any of their three Super Bowls in the '90s without him." Calling bullshit on that one.
Haley was a prick off the field, in the locker room and to the media when he played. But we've since kissed and made up. It's nothing personal.
It's just that when I think of Haley I picture him as a 49er. Every other name in the Ring of Honor, I think of as a Cowboy.
I know Emmitt Smith finished his career as a Cardinal, Allen and Bob Hayes were eventually 49ers and even Tony Dorsett spent a forgettable season with the Broncos. But those were after they established star-studded careers in Dallas.
Chuck Howley played two seasons with the Chicago Bears but suffered a knee injury and never became a major contributor before getting traded to Dallas. Tom Landry was an All-Pro player and defensive coordinator opposite offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi for the New York Giants in the 50s, but his first head coaching gig was with the Cowboys.
Haley is the first Ring of Honor inductee who was somebody significant before becoming a Cowboy and, screw me, I don't like it one bit. He had more quality than quantity, with his five-year tenure the shortest of any Ring of Honor member. It's the same reason I don't want Deion Sanders in the Ring.
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SHOW ME HOW
It's like cars. You always cherish the brand new one over somebody else's you sorta took off their hands. Scratches on both of them, but the ones on the new car are your scratches. It's what, to me, made the Mavs' championship so special. Dirk Nowitzki's blood, sweat and tears to a title were all shed in a Mavericks' uniform.
From Tex Schramm to Tom Landry to Roger Staubach to Bob Lilly to the Triplets, the Cowboys have a rich enough heritage to be extremely picky in membership to their club. Exclusivity is the word Tex used and that Jerry Jones echoes.
I'd like to have seen Harvey Martin or Ed "Too Tall" Jones -- both elite pass-rushers on Super Bowl-champion teams that made their debuts with Dallas -- go in instead of Haley. And down the line, the current Cowboys will get DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten into immortality. Both were -- to steal the slogan of American Airlines -- based here, best here.
Can't say the same for Charles Haley.