After the Steelers had won their fourth Superbowl title in 1980, they came up with a slogan to describe their hopes for the following season. The slogan was, “One for the thumb in 81” meaning that many of the players had earned four Superbowl Rings in the past decade and were planning on getting a fifth one for the following season. Unfortunately for the Steelers, none of those players ever achieved the goal of a fifth ring as a player.
Thus far, the only man in NFL history to earn five Superbowl rings as a player is Charles Haley. Haley earned two of those rings with the San Francisco 49ers and then three more while playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Haley played outside linebacker for the 49ers from 1986-1991 and helped them earn two championships in Superbowl XXIII (1988) and Superbowl XXIV (1989). After several well-publicized confrontations with his 49er teammates and the coaching staff, Haley was traded to Dallas during the 1992 off-season.
Although Haley gained a reputation as a disgruntled and malcontent player during his first years with San Francisco, he found a home in Dallas. From 1992-1996 Haley filled the position of defensive end for the Cowboys and was an integral part of their success and Superbowl Dynasty of the 90s. During this era, as you know, the Cowboys won Superbowls XXVII (1992), XXVIII (1993) and XXX (1995).
In 1996, Haley made the decision to retire after suffering a herniated disc five games into the season. In 1998, Haley came out of retirement to aid his old team, the 49ers in post-season play. The following year, 1999, he returned and played a full season with the 49ers before finally retiring for good.
Haley’s accomplishments during his 12 year career are quite impressive. He had 100.5 sacks, 485 tackles with 13 assists, 26 forced fumbles, and 1 safety. He had 2 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Haley was named to 5 Pro Bowls (88, 90, 91, 94, and 95) and was named an NFL All-Pro in 1990 and 1994. In addition, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
The late Bill Walsh called Haley "one of the greatest players of our era." At one point, he was considered the best pass rusher in all of football.” Former Cowboys quarterback, Troy Aikman, said, “In my opinion, we would not have experienced the run of success we enjoyed here if it were not for Charles Haley’s contributions.”
Many people, myself included, believe Haley’s personal accomplishments have earned him a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame, but unfortunately, he has not been able to make the list of 15 finalists in his first few years of eligibility. Hopefully, the NFL will rectify this situation in the near future. Until then, Charles, we Cowboy fans offer up our gratitude and recognize your contributions to America’s Team. Thanks.
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