Jeff Pearlman

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The Charles Haley Snub

So Ronnie Lott went off recently about how his old 49er teammate, Charles Haley, hasn’t made the Hall of Fame. Haley, Lott argues, has five Super Bowl rings. He also happened to be one of the two or three most feared pass rushers of his era.

Writes Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk:

One of his former teammates, Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, has chimed in regarding the omission of Haley from the 2010 class.  Specifically, Lott addressed rumors that Haley’s treatment of the media and teammates has contributed to his exclusion from Canton.

“If that has anything to do with the bearing of the stature that has to do with his being associated with making this, what a travesty,” Lott said, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com.  “How dare we judge someone because of who they are and not judge them for what they did and what they accomplished.  We are not in the game of judging people for their character.  We are in the game of judging people for their accomplishments and his accomplishments are second to none.”

He’s right — the only thing that’s supposed to matter are the things the player does on the field.  But we all realize that other factors influence the human beings who make these decisions.

And given some of the accounts of Haley’s behavior, it’s not hard to understand why Haley has to date been blackballed.

I’ll just say it: If Boys Will Be Boys has anything to do with Haley’s exclusion, I’m mortified. Was his behavior with the Cowboys, uh, odd? And offputting? And crude? Yes. But, as I wrote, he suffers from a mental illness. And, more important, the guy was an absolute beast of a player. Richard Dent just got in, and Haley was a much better pass rusher than Dent. He singlehandedly lifted the Cowboys’ defensive line from good to fabulous.

This one’s an easy choice. Haley has to be in.

  • Bulbous

    I don’t understand; how was Haley that much better than Dent? Dent had 37.5 more sacks than him, and spent much of his later years injured, so those years don’t count. Plus Dent was a Super Bowl MVP, and he retired earlier, so he has more years of HOF eligibility. Let’s not get carried away; Haley was very good, but he was not in the same league as Lawrence Taylor or Reggie White. He should get into the Hall of Fame someday.

  • Andy

    This seems like a good post to mention my fantasy football team (I know, JP doesn’t go for such silliness) has been named “Last Naked Warriors” for the past couple of seasons, after I read BWBB.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life