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2011 NFL Hall of Fame Class: Ronnie Lott Upset Charles Haley Not Included

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its newest class of inductees yesterday, and Charles Haley was noticeably absent. He had made the list of 15 finalists, but he did not make the first cutdown to ten and will have to wait another year for potential enshrinement. Ronnie Lott was less than pleased by the NFL Hall of Fame snub of Charles Haley (ESPN NFC East Blog, ESPN Dallas):

“I’m disappointed … Here’s a guy that has five Super Bowls, the most rings. We are all viewed by being champions and how can a guy with the most championships not be part of the Hall of Fame? It doesn’t jive with the average fan, it doesn’t jive with the average person. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair. I’m not taking anything away from those other members, but none of those members have what he has.

If that has anything to do with the bearing of the stature that has to do with his being associated with making this, what a travesty … How dare we judge someone because of who they are and not judge them for what they did and what they accomplished? We are not in the game of judging people for their character. We are in the game of judging people for their accomplishments, and his accomplishments are second to none."

Charles Haley finished his career with 100.5 sacks. That number ranks 23rd all time and Haley was actually ranked 12th. As great as that number is, the Super Bowl rings are the most impressive statistic. Charles Haley finished his NFL career with five Super Bowl rings, winning two with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Dallas Cowboys. While other individuals have one five or more rings, none of them has done that exclusively as a player. “Mean” Joe Greene won four as a player and two as a special assistant to the Steelers and Pepper Johnson won two as a player and three as an assistant coach with the Patriots. Haley is the only player with five Super Bowl rings during his playing career.

The stories of Haley’s life in the NFL have become fairly legendary and will make most anybody blush. As Ronnie Lott stated, it’s a travesty if people are judging Haley for any of his personal issues when considering him for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Given the character defects of numerous Hall of Famers (in all sports), it’s fairly ridiculous. It’s not the Hall of Nice Guys after all.