Many folks in the Bay Area will watch the induction of former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown and ex-49ers and Cowboys pass rusher Charles Haley in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8.
Let’s hope Aldon Smith will be among those watching.
In a teleconference Thursday, Haley spoke about Smith and how this talented young man can be one of the all-time greats if he gets his personal life back on track.
Haley knows a thing or two about being derailed.
The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1986 with 12 sacks, he was a vicious pass rusher for the 49ers. He was a key part of Super Bowl championship teams in 1989 and 1990, but inside the 49ers’ locker room, he was nothing but trouble. He reportedly fought with players, exposed himself to a female reporter and urinated on a teammate’s car.
Haley was traded to Dallas in 1992 and helped the Cowboys win three world titles. He is the only player with five Super Bowl rings. Haley retired with the 49ers after the 1999 season with 100.5 sacks and was diagnosed in 2002 as being bipolar. He controls the disorder with medication.
As far as we know, Smith does not fight with teammates, expose himself to female reporters or urinate on cars. His demons come from within a bottle, which has led to two DUIs and a league suspension followed by treatment.
“He’s a very, very, very talented young man,” said Haley, who raises money for mental illness. “He’s just got to stay on the field. He can’t allow other people to push him the wrong direction. And you know, the bad part about Aldon is nobody is going to give him the benefit of the doubt if something happens because of his past.”
Haley had 40.5 sacks in 60 games in his first four seasons. Smith has 44 in 50 games through four seasons.
The possibilities are endless for Smith, if he can keep a straight line.
“He’s a really good kid, man, and he’s just been through some things,” Haley said.
Victor Contreras, (916) 326-5527, firstname.lastname@example.org; @sacbeevictor
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