The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

I Pick Dick Haley


What is a "war room" besides an overused vernacular this time of year? It's just some conference room where NFL teams huddle and hope to select seven players out of roughly 1,000 candidates that will positively change their clubs' fortunes? As with all facets of professional sports, we can never leave well enough alone and always strive to create best of lists.

But that is the nature of the game. And with the NFL 2009 Draft a scant five days away, football fan's thoughts turn from "frozen tundras" and "Monsters of the Midways" to "war rooms" and "Mel Kipers." link
So who should lead these citadels where the supposedly learned use subjective criteria to pick heroes that may someday be memorialized, idolized and immortalized?

By definition the person I would want in an actual war room would be the great General George S Patton. Any military leader famous for saying that "the object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his," is the guy you want in charge during times of crisis and strife. However, that is not the NFL.

What teams need is a person who can lead by example, with hard work and passion, skill and evaluation skill; a person who will change the fortunes of a billion dollar organization by selecting the correct few 21-year-old men to become the next generation of Sunday heroes. No one dies when decisions are made in these war rooms, but dreams are realized and dashed.

There are many qualified candidates for this "best of" title, from Hall of Famers Tex Schram and Jim Finks to Jimmie Johnson and Ron Wolf, George Young and the Tuna himself and Bill Parcels. No list would be complete without Bill Walsh, John Butler, Ernie Accorsi, Bill Polian and Ozzie Newsome and of course modern day marvels like Bill Belichick, Kevin Colbert and Scott Pioli. But above all of these great names, the person most apt to lead a war room is none other than Richard "Dick" Haley. The legend of the 16mm film, remains a person as humble as he is successful, with the Super Bowl laden track record to prove it.

Haley, the son of a steelworker, played six seasons as an NFL defensive back after being drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 9th round (100th overall) of the 1959 draft. He went on to fame as the Director of Player Personnel for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1971-1990, as well as the New York Jets from 1991-2002.

Haley is credited with selecting the universally recognized greatest draft of all time -- the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a class that included four future Pro Football Hall of Famers: Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster. Haley accomplished all of this with humility and grace. A true gentleman in every sense of the word, he would most likely wilt at the thought that anyone took the time to write this piece; and that is among the reasons that he is the chosen one.

By Peter Schaffer  |  April 21, 2009; 6:21 AM ET  | Category:  Draft , Peter Schaffer Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Nice choice, you make it entertaining! I said I wasn’t going to do this, but I gotta help a brotha out… Maybe you present your lists in chronological waves: (a) historical classics (Finks, Schram, Young, Davis, Walsh, Butler, Accorsi, Wolf)…(b) time tested vets (Polian, Newsome, Bellicik, Tuna)…(c) baby boomers (Pioli, Colbert, Thompson). And then drop the bomb and surprise them with your choice…the relatively obscure Dick Haley leading your pack! Love the way you describe him, spot on…a class guy who was very humble, which is somewhat of an anomaly in the profession, much less in that role within the industry. Which explains why most readers (except those in PIT and NY) may not understand your choice. Men can only aspire to make your futures list in a few years!!!

Posted by: JimBeam2 | April 21, 2009 1:42 PM

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