He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame three weeks ago, and no fan of data analysis can argue.
In this era of stats-mean-absolutely-everything-because-you-can't-debate-numbers mindlessness, what, exactly, is there to say about
Yet at the same time Smith was cruising into Canton, a more worthy player remained on the outside, inexplicably barred from glory. Is
A record five Super Bowl titles don't lie.
"I'm not a big Hall of Fame person, because I think it's a team sport,"
So why was Haley, now in his 11th year of retirement, turned down for the fifth-straight time by the so-called football experts who gauge Hall worthiness?
A. Because pass-rushing defensive ends don't compile the otherworldly eye-popping figures of offensive players.
B. Because he was crazy.
Well, not crazy, per se. What Charles Haley was -- still is -- is bipolar. Though never officially diagnosed until seven years ago, Haley was prescribed anti-depressants early on in his career. Yet he only took his medication sporadically. Like once a week. Or once a month. Or once a season. He was prone to outlandish acts that made
One in particular perfectly summed up Charles -- cruel, ruthless, biting -- sans meds. After signing with the Dallas Mavericks as a rookie in 1993,
Yet for all of Haley's negatives (and make no mistake, within the Dallas locker room he was avoided like Chlamydia), teammates are mature enough to state the obvious: Without Haley, the '90s Cowboys win zero Super Bowls. With him, they won three. As soon as he arrived from San Francisco before the 1992 season, the Dallas defense was transformed. A unit that ranked 17th in the NFL one year earlier was now fifth. A unit that had 23 sacks one year earlier now compiled 44.
Upon reading my book,
Emmitt Smith, on the other hand, gets too much. Always has. Countless teammates will admit to this, though rarely on the record. Unlike
Worst of all, he was selfish. As Smith's fame increased and his numbers mounted, he turned increasingly self-absorbed. He often refused to sign autographs for fans, and instructed his agents to market him not as an athlete, but as a brand. By the time Smith departed Dallas after the 2002 season, most Cowboys were thrilled to see him go. At Irvin's Hall of Fame induction ceremony three years ago, roughly 25 Cowboy players mingled with the fans, talking, laughing, signing autographs and telling old stories. Smith sat alone -- behind his personal bodyguard. Not surprising, one Cowboy told me. Emmitt was being Emmitt.
Haley, on the other hand, was Haley.
Difficult. Ornery. Annoying. Rude.