Commentary

Haley had helping hands from WRs

Updated: October 9, 2009, 2:37 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens couldn't stand Todd Haley.

The two argued in meeting rooms, at practice, on football fields and in locker rooms.

It finally came to a head on Nov. 12, 2006. Haley, then the Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator, was trying to have a discussion with Owens about the passing game.

Owens told Haley to never speak to him again.

And this was after a win.

Owens is gone now, and so is Haley, who's the head coach at Kansas City. The Cowboys visit the Chiefs on Sunday.

"I was a young player when Todd got here, obviously," tight end Jason Witten said of Haley's tenure in Dallas from 2004 to 2006. "Very intense, very energetic coach. We have some fond memories together. I think he'll do a good job as a head coach."

[+] EnlargeTodd Haley/Terrell Owens
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezThen-receivers coach Todd Haley and Terrell Owens argued constantly when both were with the Dallas Cowboys. Haley credits working with high-profile receivers with helping him ascend to his current head coaching position with Kansas City.

Haley's fiery temper, and passion, weren't limited to only players. Then-Cowboys coach Bill Parcells slugged Haley in the shoulder during a game at Seattle in October 2005 when the two were yelling at the referees.

"Yeah, he wears his feelings on his sleeve, that's for sure," Witten said. "I think in a good way. I remember him and Bill getting in a fight there that one day. He always meant well. Every day, he was searching to get better and make you better as a player. At the end, you respect him for that."

Owens thought Haley was harassing him.

Haley said he wanted to help Owens and the other receivers on the roster. That brash style carried over to Arizona, where he was the offensive coordinator for two seasons. He got into loud discussions with quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Anquan Boldin on the sidelines.

"I try to make it clear to everybody that I'm an emotional person," Haley said. "I like to think that that's part of what's helped me get to where I am. Contrary to what some people think, as a coach, you're not in this business to get players to like you. OK?

"You're in this business to get your players to play the best that they can play."

Haley believes his work with wide receivers -- especially high-profile ones such as Keyshawn Johnson, Owens and Boldin -- allows him to understand what it takes to become a head coach.

When he got to Kansas City, Haley and GM Scott Pioli traded tight end Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta, got rid of designated parking spaces for players, demoted wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on the depth chart during training camp and even benched starting linebacker Derrick Johnson.

Not to say Haley is doing magical things in Kansas City. The Chiefs are 0-4, have the NFL's second-worst offense, have converted a league-worst 17.6 percent of third downs and are ranked 29th in passing.

"I'm very grateful that I coached the position that I got to coach, and Coach Parcells put me in charge of, many years ago," Haley said. "More than any other position, because of the nature of the beast, you're going to get some high-profile, Keyshawn Johnson types. Some interesting characters. You've got to be on your game all the time.

"Again, I think that's helped shape who I am and how I coach. It's helped me."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at calvin.watkins@espn3.com.

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