At a time when Charles Haley was supposed to be basking in the glory of his own enshrinement, the new Pro Football Hall of Famer instead used his platform to campaign for the inclusion of another iconic figure in San Francisco 49ers history.
During his speech in Canton, Ohio on Saturday evening, Haley urged the Hall of Fame to vote in former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr, who served as Haley's presenter for the ceremony.
"When you think about Hall of Famers, you think about winning," Haley said. "So if that's the standard, why is he not here? I pray that 'Mr. D' gets into the Hall of Fame sooner than later."
Haley, at least in part, received his gold jacket and bust because of his record five Super Bowl rings. DeBartolo also won five championships in 23 years as San Francisco's leading man
"I'd like to thank Mr D. for stepping up to be the greatest owner that I ever played for," Haley said. "He was passionate, and he was very confident in his team. He's done so many great things for me."
DeBartolo, a three-time Hall of Fame finalist, previously presented for coach Bill Walsh, quarterback Joe Montana, defensive end Fred Dean and wide receiver Jerry Rice.
On Saturday, DeBartolo spoke about his special relationship with Haley during a videotaped presentation. He recounted the time Haley was ejected from a Monday night game against the Los Angeles Rams. DeBartolo hurried to the locker room to check on Haley, who was shocked when he saw the owner.
"Oh my god, 'Mr. D,'" Haley said. "They ejected you too?"
Longtime NFL general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf were enshrined this year under the new "contributors" classification, which honors individuals who made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching.
If you ask any of the men who DeBartolo presented for, they'll tell you that the 49ers legend certainly fits those requirements.
As for his take, DeBartolo said that being inducted into the Hall of Fame would be a dream come true.
"It's the greatest honor that anybody could have," DeBartolo told 49ers.com on Saturday. "I just have to live day-by-day, and we'll see what happens."