One day before entering the Hall of Fame, the former Niners star threw his support behind Smith after the young pass rusher was released by San Francisco on Friday following his third DUI arrest.
"Do I know him? Yeah, I know Aldon," Haley told reporters. "I was working with him, trying to help him, and I'm not done yet."
The Niners feel otherwise, choosing to move on from a gifted but troubled player who piled up 33.5 sacks over his first two seasons before an array of arrests and off-the-field issues sidetracked Smith's career. As one of the more colorful and controversial players of his era, Haley preached forgiveness.
"The kid made a mistake, he might have made one or two mistakes. You know what? We learn from mistakes, if he's willing to learn from mistakes," Haley said. "And if he's willing to learn, I'll be there to help him do it. That's what we all have to do."
The message is notable coming from Haley, whose own career was flooded with anecdotes about his wild behavior behind the scenes. Haley on Friday, though, spoke repeatedly about the responsibility associated with becoming a Hall of Famer.
"The Hall of Fame, they sit here and talk about this fraternity. This fraternity needs to be turned from the inside to the outside, because (young players) have no clue. They have no clue," Haley said. "... Some of the older (Hall of Famers) sat there in a position of smug, you know, 'I'm here, so forget everybody else.' These young guys, we can go out and impact these guys."
On a day when Smith has lost much, Haley remains in his corner for whatever comes next.
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