Charles Haley had his ups and downs off the field during his playing career, but was able to handle them well enough to wind up in the Hall of Fame.
Haley is now trying to make sure current players avoid the downs and has counseled 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith to put his energy into football so he can avoid the issues that led him to be suspended for a large portion of last season. The 49ers asked Haley to deliver a similar message to their rookie class this offseason and Haley opted for “shock value” to reach players he says have the “attention span of a 5-year-old.”
“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. Why don’t you act like that?’ They all looked at me crazy,” Haley said, via the San Jose Mercury News.
49ers fullback Bruce Miller, who is white, was arrested following an incident with his fiancee this offseason and ultimately pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace, but Haley said that his main point was that young players need to find the right role models to follow early in their careers. He cited Ronnie Lott, Michael Carter and Joe Montana as some of the players that provided that direction for him and said the rookies need to “have people that stand for something” until they can do it for themselves.
Shock value will probably lose out to thankfulness when Haley takes the stage in Canton next month, but it might be worth tuning in to check out if that prediction is correct.