49ers Great Charles Haley Receives Hall of Fame Gold Jacket

CANTON, OHIO -- Sure, Charles Haley won three of his record five Super Bowls in blue and silver with the Dallas Cowboys. 

But as San Francisco 49ers fans have always known and the world found out on Thursday, gold is the legend's best color.

Haley, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the 100-sack club, was presented with his Hall of Fame gold jacket at the Memorial Civic Center, just down the road from where he'll be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday evening.

The ceremony marked the official start to Hall of Fame weekend, which will see Haley and seven others immortalized in the game's hallowed halls.

On this night, four thousand people packed the Canton auditorium to watch the newest inductees slip on their golden attire. Among those in attendance were 49ers greats Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Fred Dean and Dave Wilcox.

Haley's time in the spotlight began with house emcee Rich Eisen noting that the pass-rusher had everyone in the room beat in terms of winning championships. At that moment, Haley raised his right hand and wiggled all five fingers, one for each of his Super Bowl wins.

The first person Haley hugged on his way to the center stage was Rice. Then came Young, who he lifted up off of his feet with a two-armed squeeze. The best embrace occurred with Lott, as the two imposing defenders touched their foreheads together and shared a few words before Haley began his walk to the podium again. 

The pass-rush master spent eight of his 13 NFL seasons terrorizing opposing quarterbacks for the San Francisco 49ers.

Later on in the evening, Haley, a five-time HOF finalist before his long wait ended earlier this year, watched a montage of his career highlights ending with the narrator welcoming him into the gold jacket fraternity.

Smiling ear-to-ear the entire time, Haley took off the coat he arrived to the event wearing and bent down to let former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Haley's close friend and presenter for Saturday enshrinement, put the gold jacket onto his shoulders for the first time.

"I am so excited," Haley later said. "This class I'm going with, this distinguished class. I am so happy. This is the moment I've been waiting for all my life ever since I started playing football. To get to enjoy this moment with my family here is so exciting."

Looking ahead, Haley will have time to prepare on Friday before the big event a day later, when he joins the likes of Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown for the unveiling of their bronze busts.

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