Charles Haley to 49ers rookies: ‘‘Why don’t you all act like the white guys?’
Following a long wait after an incredibly successful and dominant NFL career spent between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys from 1986-1999, Charles Haley at long last soon will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Haley, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after his retirement in 2002, hopes to use the platform awarded by his induction to speak to issues that concern him, which of course includes dealing with the stigma of mental illness.
He also spends time mentoring young football players. A fierce competitor on the field, Haley demonstrated when he spoke to 49ers rookies in May that he can bring it with his words as well, and did so in a very provocative manner that surely perked up the ears of his audience.
“As far as the rookies, and I know they probably got mad, but I said, ‘Why don’t you all act like the white guys? You never see them in the paper getting high or hitting people,” Haley said during a conference call Thursday, via the San Jose Mercury-News. “Why don’t you act like that?’ They all looked at me crazy.”
Haley insisted putting something like that out there without fear it may rub some players the wrong way was done solely to grab their attention.
“I just did it for the shock value of it,” Haley said. “… The hardest thing is these guys, they have an attention span of a 5-year-old. I’m not the most gentle and kind person to sit there and deal with that crap. I’m a little more confrontational. I think I got my point across.”
Odds are he did.
Haley mentioned during the conference call that he relied upon the leadership of players both black and white — including Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana, among others — who mentored him when he was a young player with the 49ers, something he believes incoming rookies need to rely upon themselves.
“You’ve got to have people that stand for something, until you’re able to lead yourself,” he said.
[H/T Black Sports Online, top image via CBS Sports]