Hall of Famer Charles Haley is no stranger to providing a little shock value.
His behavior – certainly not his on-field performance – prompted the 49ers to trade him to the Dallas Cowboys in 1992. It was a move that was widely seen as swinging the balance of power in the NFL to the Cowboys, a team on which Haley won three of his five Super Bowl rings.
Haley, who said he was diagnosed in 2002 with bipolar disorder, has been active in talking to young players about how to act off the field.
“As far as the rookies,” Haley said, “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. I just did it for the shock value of it.”
Haley made his comments Thursday on a conference call in advance of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.
“The hardest thing is these guys 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.”
Haley has tried to make an impact with 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith. The two spoke at length before the NFC Championship game in Atlanta in January 2013. Smith’s career got off to one of the best starts for a pass-rusher in NFL history before off-field issues caused him to miss 14 games the past two seasons.
Haley was a visitor to the 49ers’ Santa Clara practice facility in May. He tutored the pass-rushers on techniques, and he spoke about not allowing off-the-field matters to have a negative carryover to the playing field.
In 2013, Smith missed five games while in treatment for substance abuse. And he served a nine-game suspension at the beginning of last season due to violations of the NFL’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.
“He’s just got to stay on the field,” Haley said. “He can’t allow other people to push him in the wrong direction. The bad part about Aldon is that nobody is going to give him the benefit of the doubt if something happens because of his past.
“That’s what I keep telling him, that my past haunted me. I had to sit down and make a change, and put my energy into playing football and not to those people that tried to hurt me.”