Former 49ers defensive end Charles Haley, a disruptive force on the field and in his own locker room, will find out this afternoon if his historic career is deemed Hall-of-Fame worthy.
Haley, the only NFL player to earn five Super Bowl rings, is one of 15 modern-day Hall-of-Fame finalists. No more than five can be selected for induction and cornerback Deion Sanders, who played one Super-Bowl-winning season with the Niners in 1994, and running back Marshall Faulk are viewed as near-slam-dunk candidates.
Haley, who played 106 of his 169 career games in San Francisco, was a five-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro and played in seven NFC Championship games during an eight-season span (1988-95). His mid-career trade from the Niners to Cowboys helped swing the balance of power in the conference as Dallas went on to win three Super Bowls in a four-season span with Haley.
Off the field, Haley didn’t curry any favor with the 44-person selection committee with his run-ins with the media – not to mention his coaches and teammates. No sense in detailing his more aberrant behavior on what could possibly be his big day, but it’s fair to say urination and, um, inappropriate personal touching aren’t mentioned when most potential Hall of Famers are discussed.
Even if Haley had been a model citizen, his Hall-of-Fame credentials can be debated.
His championship resume is a powerful selling point, but his career sack total (100.5) is well below the numbers produced by fellow finalists Kevin Greene (160.5) and Chris Doleman (150.5), who rank third and fourth in NFL history, respectively (sacks became an official stat in 1982).
Greene and Doleman also each registered more than 200 career tackles than Haley.
• The 15 modern-day finalists: RB Jerome Bettis, WR Tim Brown, WR Cris Carter, OG Dermontti Dawson, DE Richard Dent, DE Chris Doleman, RB Marshall Faulk, DE Charles Haley, DT Cortez Kennedy, RB Curtis Martin, WR Andre Reed, OT Willie Roaf, Ed Sabol (founder of NFL Films), CB Deion Sanders and TE Shannon Sharpe.
• I’ve admittedly done no research of the finalists, but my gut-feeling, knee-jerk Hall of Famers: Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Cris Carter, Shannon Sharpe and Chris Doleman.
• The unveiling of the NFL’s regular-season schedule has become a television event. The NFL Draft has become a prime-time, three-day extravaganza. Now, for the first time, the announcement of the Hall-of-Fame class will be a prime-time TV event (Coming soon to a channel near you: NFL stars pack for training camp!)
Coverage will begin at 4 p.m. today on the NFL Network. Portions of the announcement ceremony will be broadcast live on NFL.com.