It was interesting to hear Trent Baalke, who enters his first full season as the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, talk about his influences in the business.
He broke into the NFL in 1998 as a personnel scout for the New York Jets, and while he rattled off the names of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, the first name Baalke mentioned was Dick Haley.
The father of Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, Dick Haley was instrumental in the construction of the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty of the 1970’s. Haley was a prominent member of personnel staffs that drafted 12 players who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I think it starts with my first job, with the Jets, and being fortunate enough to work for one of the best talent evaluators in the business in Dick Haley,” Baalke said. “I learned a lot from Mr. Haley.
“Also on that staff was coach Parcells, who I still consult and learned a tremendous amount from. Coach Belichick was a part of that group, and that entire staff. That staff was loaded with talent.”
Dick Haley, 73, was a cornerback for the Steelers, Redskins and Vikings. He served as the Steelers director of player personnel from 1971 to 1990 and then held that role for the Jets from 1991 to 2002. The Steelers’ 1974 draft included Jack Lambert, Mike Webster, John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, four eventual Hall of Famers who were at the heart of the team’s first Super Bowl championships.
If scouts ever get consideration for Canton, Dick Haley would be a worthy addition.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune