A native of Gladys, Virginia, Charles Haley went on to play football at James Madison University and in 1985 became the schools first ever I-AA All-American. At the time of his retirement, Haley was the only player in NFL history to have played for 5 Super Bowl Champions (San Francisco in ’88 & ’89 and Dallas in ’92, ’93 & ’95). Haley started his college career as an outside linebacker, but played both outside and inside at times. Perhaps his most memorable game came in a 21-6 win in 1985 over the eventual national champion Georgia Southern. In that game Haley blocked a punt to set up a touchdown, caused a fumble, had a quarterback sack and deflected three passes. By the time he left JMU he was the school’s all-time leader in tackles with 506.
The San Francisco 49ers made Haley a fourth-round draft choice in 1986 and the 6ft 5in, 245lb defensive end started off his career with 12 sacks in 16 games as a rookie. While with the team he made two Pro Bowl appearances and in 1990 was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year.
Described by many as a fiery competitor, in all Haley made 5 Pro Bowl appearances and set a record for sacks in Super Bowl play with 4.5, finally ending his career with 100.5 total sacks. But him most memorable may be in Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills when he sacked quarterback Jim Kelly, causing a fumble that fell into the hands of defensive tackle Jimmie Jones who dove into the end zone to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead, one they would never relinquish.
Back injuries forced Haley to retire in 1996 but in 1999, after three operations, he returned to the game and to the 49ers to play in the postseason. He retired permanently at the end of the season.