DALLAS -- Defensive end Charles Haley, saying he wanted to repay Coach Jimmy Johnson for taking a chance on him last season, Tuesday signed a three-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
Haley was obtained from San Francisco shortly before the start of the 1992 campaign after a controversial career with the 49ers. He became a key part of what turned out to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL last season and then had an outstanding series of games in the playoffs.
Although Haley could have signed with another team, the Cowboys had a right to sign him by making a matching offer. But it never came to that.
'After the Super Bowl,' Haley said, 'we had a little celebration and coach Johnson came up to me and we had a talk that night. He said, 'Charles, I want you back.'
'He traded for me and he believed in me. I made a commitment to myself that if the Cowboys were even close to what I wanted, I would come back since I owe the man that kind of respect. He gave me a chance to come here, unconditionally, and play on a very young football team.
'Money is not everything to me. Having people respect me and respect my ability is important. And that's what they have done here.'
Haley, 29, was involved in a series of disputes with teammates and coaches at San Francisco. And soon after his arrival in Dallas, Haley and Johnson had a significant difference of opinion that briefly threatened to affect his stay with the team.
'I think there was a transition time,' Johnson said Tuesday. 'There was a time when Charles had to feel things out with myself and the players. But once we got through the transitional time, he has been as fine a leader as we have had on our football team.'
Haley recorded only six quarterback sacks during the regular season, but the fact he was consistently double teamed by opposing offenses freed up other Dallas players to make big plays.
And Haley made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl XXVII when he sacked Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly at the goal line, causing a fumble that was recovered by Dallas for the touchdown that put the Cowboys in front to stay.
'There is no question Charles made an impact on our defense and our football team last year,' Johnson said. 'I really feel his addition allowed our defense to improve significantly in the pass defense and pass rush from what we had in previous years.
'I look forward to him being a great player in the years to come. It gives all the coaches an easy feeling and a good feeling that he will be with us for years to come.'