Haley shows small-town work ethic can lead to career

Published 6:31 pm Thursday, August 13, 2015

Most youngsters who play football dream of being in the pros one day, but as they get older and reality sets in, that dream often fades. Sometimes there are factors beyond their control such as physical size or speed, but sometimes it is simply the thought that NFL stars do not come to rural areas like Southside Virginia.

To any kids that may feel that way, meet recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Charles Haley, who grew up in the tiny town of Gladys.

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Haley attended William Campbell General High School and, at one point, described himself as a jokester who wasn’t always putting in the effort to be a good football player. Haley had several brothers who people said were better than him, but after what he described as a talk with God and some divine intervention, he dedicated himself to being the best player he could be.

The Generals claimed the Seminole District championship in Haley’s senior season in 1981, the same year he garnered Defensive Player of the Year, All-Region III and All-Group AA accolades.

Even with his play on the field, James Madison University was the only Division I or Division II school to offer him a scholarship. He would eventually settle in at JMU and put together a strong college career that got him drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in fourth round in 1986.

Haley continued to use his blue-collar, small-town, hard-working mindset even at the professional level and that led him to a 12-season career that lasted from 1986-99. During that time he played for the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, finishing his career with over 100 sacks and being selected to five Pro Bowls. He is also the only player to have won five championships in the NFL.

The truth is Haley is 6-foot-5 and was a stud of an athlete. There are just some physical tools that are required to be a professional player in any sport, but there are kids out there who have hard work along with dedication.