Offensive coordinator Todd Haley tries to get the attention of the officials after the controversial kickoff call during the NFC Championship.
Todd Haley is an emotional guy. He'll never deny that.
The Cardinals' offensive coordinator had that trait splashed across national television Sunday when he and wide receiver Anquan Boldin got into an argument at the end of the NFC Championship. But he was also showing it after the game, caught up in the joy of the Cards making it to the Super Bowl.
This is the fun part, the part he's dreamed about. That's why some of his other dreams – like the one about eventually becoming a head coach – have been pushed deep into the background.
"I really, and I'm not just saying this, I love my job here, I really do," Haley said
Tuesday, sitting in his office. "Everybody loves to get patted on the back or told they do a good job, but the attention isn't something I am super comfortable with. I just told (head coach Ken Whisenhunt) I love my job here. I live in a great place, I have five kids and the thought of me moving or doing something else isn't at the forefront for me."
His name is bound to come up in such talk. That's what happens to coordinators to reach the Super Bowl, especially ones directing an offense to ring up 32 points on the NFL's third-ranked defense as the Cards did to the Eagles Sunday. That's how Whisenhunt rose to prominence, becoming a "hot" candidate after winning a title as offensive coordinator of the Steelers.
Like Whisenhunt, Haley's name probably won't jump into the hiring cycle until after next season (Whisenhunt's main attention came the year after the Super Bowl, which is when the Cardinals hired him). But the media attention of the next two weeks – especially the week in Tampa – will keep his name out there.
Right now, Haley – who was going to be in the mix for the Dolphins' coaching job
until the Cardinals gave him a big raise to step away from the process – is thinking about the Cardinals, along with his own background.
Whisenhunt has history with the Steelers but so does Haley. Haley's father, Dick, was a longtime personnel man for Pittsburgh and a key component of a front-office that put together some of the greatest drafts – and, as a result, some of the greatest teams – in NFL history.
Speaking of emotion, you can hear a little in Haley's voice when he speaks about his father, a man he believes should get consideration for the Hall of Fame because of his work.
"He's just really proud of me," Haley said. "Without him, I wouldn't be where I am."
Because of his dad, Haley went to all those Steelers' Super Bowls in the 1970s as a kid, taking part in the family events. The other side, he's not so sure about. He is grateful there are coaches with Super Bowl experience – Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, Kevin Spencer, Maurice Carthon, Teryl Austin, Matt Raich and Dedric Ward have all been to one as player or coach – so he can ask questions.
He'll get questions too, as the build-up begins. Among those queries about being a head coach will be ones about his style, which can be abrasive to players. He's already said a couple of times over the past few days how he isn't a "player's coach."
That part seems to be working, though. Quarterback Kurt Warner called it a version of "tough love."
"Sometimes you have to be the guy that stands up and says, 'It's not all about you guys liking me, it's about me getting the best out of every one of you,' " Warner said. "That's what I see from Todd.
"There are times as players you think, 'Why does he have to be like that?' … but as a coach, you want players to respect you. They don't have to like you but you want them to walk away saying that guy pushed me to be a better football player. Whether we all agree on what he does sometimes is irrelevant."
Haley said he just wants the Super Bowl run to help add to the entire staff's credibility with the players that the way things are done is the right way.
That would eventually impress other potential employers too.
These are all things for the future, though. Haley's smile grows every time he mentions the Cardinals are headed to the Super Bowl. How could it not? Haley will always wear his emotions for everyone to see.
"It's no different than these players," Haley said. "They dream about playing in the game. Coaches dream about coaching in it."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 1/20/09.