TAMPA, Fla. - Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley has been getting unwanted attention for his frequent sideline outbursts, especially his recent shouting matches with Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin.
But Haley doesn't go looking for fights and has become somewhat self-conscious about the controversy. He felt better the other night after he turned on the television.
"It's the way I am. There are a lot of great coaches who are quiet leaders, and there are a lot of great coaches who are more emotional guys, and I just happen to fit into the emotional, fiery side, I guess."
Haley, 41, is right out of the Parcells/Mike Ditka mold, scolding players for mistakes and trying to make them improve by intimidating them. Evidently, it works, because the Cardinals are one win from their first Super Bowl championship.
If they do upset the Steelers on Sunday, Haley will have a major role. After all, he has been a major contributor to an offense that has been unstoppable in the playoffs. Led by Warner and receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Boldin, the Cardinals have eight passing touchdowns in three postseason wins.
Haley just may have screamed his way into contention for a head-coaching job. It could even happen next week, because the Chiefs are believed to be interested in him.
Haley, who worked under Parcells with the Jets and the Cowboys, grew up in a football household ... in Pittsburgh, of all places. The son of former NFL cornerback Dick Haley, a personnel director of the Steelers during their run of four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s, Todd Haley was a Steelers ballboy as a child.
"From a very early age, he loved the game," Dick Haley said from his home in Sanford, Fla. "He was on the sidelines of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and who gets to do that at such a young age? Almost no one.
"In training camp, he's nine, 10 years old, living on the same floor with Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris and Lynn Swann. He was around great players and great coaches, and even at that time, some of it sunk in on how you do it. He could watch it every day. It was a great opportunity for him."
Dick Haley, a longtime Jets personnel man who works for Parcells' Dolphins as a regional scout, is one of the most knowledgeable men ever to work in the NFL. His son absorbed the football knowledge of his mild-mannered father but didn't inherit his temperament.
"That comes from his mother," Dick Haley quipped, referring to his wife, Carolyn. "Although I do remember coaching one year in Pittsburgh. It was a semipro team, and I was the defensive coach and I had a little bit of Todd's temperament back then. I yelled at this one defensive tackle, and he was gonna kill me, so I changed my demeanor."
Not Todd. He's as feisty as there is on the sideline. His shouting match with Boldin near the end of the NFC Championship Game was caught on television and created plenty of controversy in the aftermath of the Cardinals' upset win.
But it was nothing new. Haley and Warner regularly yell at one another on the sideline. But it's one reason Warner has enjoyed one of his best statistical seasons. At age 37.
"Todd wears his emotions on his sleeve more than some of the other I've worked with," Warner said.
"I haven't gotten into arguments with too many coaches, but we argue every week. It's fun, because he's a competitor and he wants to win. I'm like that, too. Sometimes it leads to a little friction in the moment, but the one thing I know about Todd is that those emotions come from wanting to be great. Those are the things you respect in a coach."
Haley will match wits with legendary Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, a former Lions cornerback who came into the NFL in 1959, the same year as Haley's father. LeBeau and Dick Haley have worked in the NFL for 50 consecutive seasons.
"I think it will be our biggest challenge of the year, without a doubt, on the biggest stage, which just adds to it," Todd Haley said. "They have a lot of unique players who make it great, and this will be the best challenge yet. But it's really what it is all about to me, and I wouldn't choose it any other way."