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Mentored for success

NFL All-Pro and Five-Time Super Bowl Champion Charles Haley ('87) was recognized as one of 100 notable Madison alumni in the "100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Dukes" campaign, leading up to Homecoming 2011: The Alumni Centennial

Charles Haley

Charles Haley ('87) left marks on and off the field, helping bring JMU football to new heights. A versatile and ferocious defender recruited by Challace McMillin, Haley emerged as a talented, hard-working, supremely successful college and pro standout. These traits would lead him to become the only player in NFL history to earn five Super Bowl rings.

A two-time All-American and a three-time Defensive MVP at JMU, Haley’s 506 career tackles are the most in Madison history. He had three seasons of more than 100 tackles and was named the Virginia Division I defensive player of the year in 1985.

In 1986, Haley was selected in the fourth round of NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers — the highest-selected player in JMU history. After two Super Bowl titles in San Francisco, Haley was traded to Dallas in 1992, and helped turn a good Cowboys’defense into the NFL's best. “We couldn't spell Super Bowl until Charles joined us," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He was our missing link.”

Photo of Charles Haley and Inez and Ralph Roop

2003 Alumni Achievement Award winner Charles Haley ('87) poses with Madison benefactors Inez and Ralph Roop.

The 28-year old defensive end, known for his aggressive and practically unstoppable presence on the field, helped turn the Cowboys into a dynasty, with Super Bowl victories in 1992, 1993 and 1995.

Back problems forced Haley into retirement in 1996, and after a brief return in 1998 and 1999, he left the playing field for good. In 12 pro seasons, Haley totaled 100.5 sacks, forced 26 fumbles, appeared in five Pro Bowls and was named the 1990 NFC defensive player of the year.

Haley received JMU’s Carrier Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2003. He credits his Madison Experience and his coach with his NFL success: “I just felt at home when I came to Madison, and I just enjoyed the whole experience,” he said.

In November, Haley — a 2011 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist — will be enshrined into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. It’s not hard to believe an induction in Canton is close behind.

To learn more about Charles Haley and his football career, read his memoir “All the Rage: The Life of an NFL Renegade” and his Be the Change profile.