The son used to spend most fall Sundays on the Three Rivers Stadium sidelines and some summer days at training camp. The son followed his father the longtime Steelers player personnel director into the scouting business, then made a hard right turn into the coaching profession where, about a decade later, he turned down a coaching offer from those same childhood Steelers to stay with Bill Parcells in Dallas. The son, who admitted to kid-like jitters when Terry Bradshaw stood on the NFC champions’ podium Jan. 18 (as if these Cardinals need any more ex-Steelers around), on Sunday will call the plays that he hopes push the Arizona Cardinals past those same childhood Steelers.
The father feels a tad conflicted, you betcha.
"Well, it’s. . . it’s going to be different," said Dick Haley, father of Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The dad and the Steelers, whom he left in 1992 when Chuck Noll retired, "have been separated for awhile, though. But there’s never any question, growing up in the Pittsburgh area, going to Pitt and all that. I’m pretty a Pittsburgher all the way."
Except when it comes to bloodlines.
Football didn’t so much seem to course through the veins of the son, who started out a golf pro and once was the assistant golf coach at Jacksonville University – where he wasn’t happy when they didn’t promote him to the head-coaching vacancy once. Anyway, the 41-year-old Cardinals offensive coordinator, who could be hours away from being the next Kansas City Chiefs head coach, remembers his roots. Even if he’ll be trying to stomp all over them Sunday.
"I was around those guys [often], and they were just guys," Haley the younger said. "Last week, when Terry Bradshaw was down on the field, I was like a little kid again. He’s somebody you just look up to in almost mythical proportions. If Jack Lambert walked by, I’d be running to get his autograph. To be around those guys, to see how they prepared, to see what they’re about, I think is a tremendous asset. You’re talking about some of the greatest players ever. Whatever era they played in, they’d be great. Just to be around to watch them practice, to watch them interact, is a great asset."
But, hey, to him the ring means more than warm and fuzzy memories.