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Thursday, February 2, 2012
Updated: February 3, 9:28 AM ET
Charles Haley would complete HOF

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

The voting process to determine who gets enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is way too complicated.

Charles Haley
Charles Haley wasn't the most pleasant guy off the field. On it, the five-time champion did whatever was needed to help his team win.
Do we really need a brief presentation and extended debate among a group of esteemed football writers to determine whether Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice or Deion Sanders should be in the Hall of Fame?

It seems to me all folks have to do is watch the games, and it becomes pretty obvious who should be in and who shouldn't.

It's about dominance -- not stats.

That's why former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley should get a phone call Saturday evening informing him that he's been selected to be the next member of America's Team to gain football immortality.

This shouldn't be about whether Haley was a nice guy because he wasn't when he played. And it shouldn't be about how he treated the media when he played because he was often a jerk to reporters -- me included.

But let's keep it real.

O.J. Simpson and Lawrence Taylor have caused far bigger issues in society than Haley, so there's no need to hold Haley to a "good guy" standard that some self-righteous reporters implement.

The Hall of Fame should be about whether a dude was one of the best to ever play the game. And whether he must be included when its annals are written.

That's it. End of discussion.

Haley, by whatever criteria you want to use, fits those categories. He played in five Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro twice.

The man earned five Super Bowl rings. No other NFL player has more.

Let that resonate for a moment.

And just so you know, Haley was a key player on each of those five Super Bowl teams.

Haley had 11.5 sacks on San Francisco's 1988 championship team and 10.5 sacks on the Niners' 1989 title squad. He had a combined 10 sacks on the Cowboys' title teams in 1992 and 1993, but that wouldn't begin to describe the former fourth-round draft pick's impact.

There's a reason Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones would each tell you -- as would his teammates -- that the Cowboys couldn't spell Super Bowl until he arrived via trade just before the start of the 1992 season.

Haley, playing with a bad back that limited his effectiveness, had 10.5 sacks in 1995, when the Cowboys won their third title in four seasons.

Haley gave the Cowboys an edge they needed but didn't have. He was a leader the current Cowboys would kill to have.

Haley played with a passion and a fury and an anger that inspired his teammates to play their best football.

If they didn't, then Haley made it his business to see that they did. If someone wasn't practicing hard enough, then Haley made sure he did. If one of his teammates on the defensive line needed help, then Haley provided it.

After all, who wouldn't listen to a player with 100.5 career sacks?

He accumulated those with a quick first step that allowed him to beat offensive linemen at the snap of the ball. And he had a knack for getting his shoulder so low as he zoomed around the corner that tackles couldn't get their hands on him to block him.

And when tackles played off the line to stop the speed rush, he'd beat them inside with power or spin moves.

That said, you can't be seduced by just the numbers.

Players such as William Fuller (100.5), Trace Armstrong (106) and Lesley O'Neal (132.5) also had more than 100 sacks, but no one looks at them and sees a Hall of Fame player.

That's the point.

If you watched the game and remembered the impact then statistics become a portion of a discussion about a player's worthiness in Canton -- not the epicenter of the debate.

Those who watched the game understand Haley's impact. They know how important he was to San Francisco's dynasty in the 1980s and the Cowboys' dynasty in the '90s.

It's time for Haley to add another ring to his collection -- a Hall of Fame ring.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.