Mercury News- Haley, diagnosed in 2002 as being bipolar, has taken a proactive approach with the 49ers and Cowboys in mentoring younger players. In May, he spoke to the 49ers rookie class about his successes and troubles.
Said Haley: “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.”
“I just did it for the shock value of it,” Haley said of his May speech. “… 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.”
I actually fully endorse this move from Charles Haley. I don't think it's ever right to imply that black players are more prone to crime or other questionable activities than white players. Yes, more black players get in trouble with the law, but that's simply a product of the NFL being a predominantly black league. I don't exactly have the numbers in front of me. However, I would imagine if it was broken down by percentages, all races, colors, and creeds would be very similar in their proclivity to doing dumb shit. To think that black players are somehow more at risk of stupidity than other ethnicities is such a completely antiquated way of thinking that it doesn't belong anywhere near the year 2015, never mind an NFL locker room.
With that said, if you want to get the attention of a group of black rookies that's one hell of a way to do it. You don't think these guys have been hearing that they need to make better decisions from every single coach they have ever had from middle school on up? At one point or another, it starts to go in one ear and out the other. It's background noise. You know when it goes from simply being lip service to being a legitimate sticking point? When a 5-time Super Bowl Champion that was denied the Hall Of Fame on multiple occasions, strictly because of his off-the-field actions, stands in front of you and demands that you act like a group of people that has historically, and wrongfully, been viewed as superior to you. When Charles Haley essentially says that any of your transgressions are a poor reflection on an entire race of people, you listen. That stays with you. It's not politically correct. It's certainly not socially correct. But if it makes even the smallest difference in how one player acts over the course of his career it's absolutely worth saying. Whether or not it is rooted in truth is a moot point, because a player's actions will always speak louder than the words of his mentor. All aspects of the NFL are result oriented, no matter how you going about getting the desired results.