Charles Haley continues to make impact

IRVING, Texas -- In retirement, Charles Haley has the look of a mad scientist.

He walks around the halls and practice fields of Valley Ranch teaching the game to younger men who are trying to build their own résumés.

Haley's résumé is filled with stories of how he terrorized teammates and opponents. But he makes no apologies for how he acted in his youth, instead moving forward and sharing his knowledge of the game with the Dallas Cowboys' defensive players.

"I went out there and I played through a lot of pain and everything else," Haley said. "I sacrificed for the Dallas Cowboys when most quit. I put in overtime to try to help young players. I did the little things I don't get credit for. I did some dumb things too, but I did a lot of great things over there to try and help guys, and Jerry [Jones] rewarded me for that."

Haley is considered one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. He won five Super Bowl titles, was a two-time All Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler. He finished his career with 100 sacks.

When the Cowboys secured his services in 1992, there was a feeling that the balance of power shifted from the San Francisco 49ers to the Cowboys.

Jerry Jones, the man who made the deal to bring Haley from the Bay area, says that without Haley there would have been no Super Bowls at Valley Ranch in his era.

Haley said he'll be emotional when he sees his name crested into the facade of Cowboys Stadium on Sunday afternoon. He will join Drew Pearson and Larry Allen as the newest members of the Ring of Honor.

The Cowboys don't retire numbers. They retire names. They honor great players regardless of their Hall of Fame status.

And Haley's status as a Hall of Famer is in doubt. He was a semifinalist four times and a finalist in 2010. At some point Haley should move into Canton, but Sunday he moves into a legendary place in Cowboys history.

It is history Haley brings to Valley Ranch twice a week. Thursday is pass-rush day at Valley Ranch, and DeMarcus Ware -- a modern-day Haley -- receives the lessons.

"Sometimes I have to tell him to cool it because he's hitting me too hard," joked Ware about Haley's hand-to-hand sessions. "Just to have another player, not a coach, to tell you what to do, but a player that knows how to break guys down and what they're going to do -- we get a little bit more of an edge because he's helping all the pass-rushers, especially me."

Haley said that when he played in San Francisco, former coach George Seifert would make the entire team watch every player and every play. Haley took notes not only on the pass-rushers, but every detail on the linebackers and defensive backs, as well. He wanted to know every position on the field. He brings that same approach to Valley Ranch each day to the players.

"I just took the good and the bad from all of the coaches I've been around," Haley said. "My style is this: I look a player in the eye and tell him 'This is not conjecture, this is not hypothetical, this [expletive] works. I guarantee you will have success.' You have to give guys tools to win with, and if they have success with them then they believe in you. If you don't have anything in your bag to work with, then they won't believe."

During his playing career, Haley was crazed. He messed with teammates, coaches, reporters and opponents. Winning was all that mattered to Haley and he didn't care how he got there. Now retired, Haley continues to prod his students. He can't help it.

In Jason Hatcher's rookie year, Haley asked him what school he went to.

When Hatcher replied Grambling, this was the exchange.

"[Expletive] Grambling," Haley said.

"[Forget] you," Hatcher said.

"Who do you think you're talking to?" Haley said.

The two started laughing, but that's how Haley is. He's a confrontational teddy bear.

"I got to know him quick," Hatcher says now. "He's going to talk crap and mess with people. He doesn't mean anything by it. He's got a great heart. Just to have a guy like that, a future Hall of Famer, coming around is inspirational. The guy is somebody we look up to."

Sunday will be special for Haley because finally, regardless of whether he gets into the Hall of Fame, his name will be immortalized among those of other great players.

"I'm going to sit back and close my eyes," Haley said. "It still used to be my field of dreams and now I get to look down the field of dreams for a lifetime. That's the only thing I think about. You love the game of football and everything will shake out down the road, and I'm not going to worry about those things."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.