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Two generations of Haisleys tied to Arizona Rattlers

Glen Haisley Jr. is an undersized center for the Rattlers that models his game after his father.

Courtesy of Alexis Ramanjulu/Cronkite News

Glen Haisley Jr. is an undersized center for the Rattlers that models his game after his father.

MESA – In 1992, the Arizona Rattlers played their first season as a franchise with a Louisiana Tech University alumnus at quarterback and a Haisley at center. Fast forward to 2017 and the Rattlers are playing for the Intense Conference Championship with a Louisiana Tech product at quarterback and a Haisley at center.

In their 25 years, the Rattlers have won five Arena Football League championships and are in contention to win their first Indoor Football League one. Until this year, they never had a son of a former Rattlers player be on the team.

Meet Glen Haisley Sr., an offensive lineman for the franchise when it debuted, and Glen Haisley Jr., a member of this season’s team.

Although fans hope the Rattlers make it to the IFL championship game in Phoenix, Haisley Sr. does not care where the game is. If the Rattlers make it to the last game of the IFL season, he will be there, even if means driving more than 20 hours from New Orleans so he can see his son play.

“It would mean everything (to win a championship with the Rattlers),” Haisley Jr. said. “My dad didn’t win a championship with the Rattlers, so I can hold that on him and say, ‘I was with the Rattlers and I led them to a championship.’ ”

Haisley Sr. played just one season with the Rattlers, finishing his career with the team a year before his son was born. The quarterback on that team was Louisiana Tech’s Gene Johnson. This year, the Rattlers have from the same university quarterback Cody Sokol, who played high school ball at Desert Vista.

“It’s surreal,” Haisley Sr. said. “I prepare all week waiting for the game and when the game comes on and I see that No. 50, it’s unbelievable because I have a big poster in my house in pregame warmups with the Rattlers in ’92. And I got my No. 50 and you can see the ‘Haisley.’ The only thing missing is the ‘Jr.’ ”

In addition to sharing a name, Haisley wears his father’s number as he has done for most of his football career.

“It’s something that me and my dad are going to share for a lifetime,” Haisley said. “We wear the same number, we have the same name so it’s something cool between me and him.”

His father agreed that the bond he has with his son is special.

“When he went to camp and sent me a snapshot of his locker with the jersey with his name and the number, I mean, it really felt special,” he said. “He put a little touch with it when he puts the ‘junior’ on it, so when I’m watching the game and he’s known as ‘Haisley Jr.,’ it had to grow on me.”

Once Haisley Sr. was finished with his gear, his son claimed it.

“I use to always play in his Rattlers’ helmets and jerseys that he had around the house from when he played with them,” Haisley said.

In 2016, Haisley Jr. signed with the Rattlers, a team he grew up following and that had a special place in his father’s heart.

“We’re like best friends,” he said. “The first person I called was obviously my dad. I had to tell him that I was offered by the Rattlers. He was just as excited as me.”

Even though father and son are more than 1,000 miles apart and are in different time zones, they discuss the Rattlers’ upcoming opponents and watch film together while talking on the phone.

The elder Haisley has had an active role in his son’s football career, helping him advance his skills as a center from the age of four or five.

“If he’s not advanced and I played the position, there’s an issue there,” Haisley Sr. said. “We even took it to another point where I even taught him how to deep snap, which is what he does for the Rattlers now.”

While at New Orleans’ St. Augustine High School, where he was a teammate of the Cardinals’ Tyrann Mathieu, he attended a deep snap camp and met a college scout, which led to him signing at Prairie View A&M in Texas. And although football has worked out for the younger Haisley, his academic accomplishments are what has made his father most proud.

“His success now is great but I don’t think it can compare to when we were at his college graduation and they said ‘School of Sciences please stand up,’” Haisley Sr. said. “To know he has a degree in biology and chemistry, I mean that just takes it all.”

With the unwavering support he receives from his dad, Haisley hopes that his professional football career is just beginning.

“We just love the fact that he’s doing what he loves doing,” his father said. “I’m just a dad that’s proud of him and want to see him continue to strive to do what he wants to do.”