CANTON, Ohio — Aldon Smith’s arrest and subsequent release by the 49ers was the only sour note for Charles Haley in his Hall of Fame induction weekend.
The former 49er mentored the troubled Smith in recent months and promised to support him in any way necessary.
“It hurts me,” Haley said. “I feel like I let the kid down. I wasn’t there for him. I also understand that he has to take responsibility, too. I will be there within 24 hours. If he needs me, I’m going. If I have to leave tonight, before the ceremony, if he needs me, I’ll go.”
As the 49ers try to move forward amid a tumultuous weekend, Colin Kaepernick denied that he and Smith had been involved in an altercation that played a role in the arrest. One report claimed Smith had vandalized Kaepernick’s Mercedes, but the 49ers quarterback said he didn’t own one. Smith’s agent also said the report had no credence.
On the field, Haley was one of the all-time winners in NFL history. His teams won a record five Super Bowls and 68 percent of their games. The fearsome defensive end-linebacker almost singled-handedly shifted the NFC balance of power when he was dealt to the Dallas Cowboys, a trade that Eddie DeBartolo called his worst as 49ers owner. The Cowboys won three Super Bowls in his five seasons with them.
“It was a fiasco,” said DeBartolo, who introduced Haley at the induction ceremony on Saturday. “I knew it was going to come back to haunt us. … It was just a horrible trade.
“They talk about the trade that made Dallas a contender, when they made that big trade with Minnesota for Herschel Walker. I don’t think that’s anything compared to when they stole Charles Haley from us. It still haunts me to this day.”