Said Sara, "My biggest fear is finding him in a hotel room dead somewhere." Two of Haselrig's ex-Steeler teammates, Miami Dolphin tight end Eric Green and retired guard Terry Long, also are concerned for Haselrig's well-being. "He's battling something tough," says Green, who served a six-week drug suspension in 1992. "He's a loner right now, but he needs to surround himself with people who will look out for him."
Says Long, who attempted suicide after testing positive for steroids in 1991, an episode that led to Haselrig's ascension to the starting lineup, "I can understand why he retreated. Your name's all over the paper. It's like a nightmare. You're afraid of what your friends or family members might think."
Neither the Jets nor the NFL will say whether they have hired detectives to search for Haselrig. "We've taken the steps we think are appropriate to look for him," says Jet president Steve Gutman. Lawyer Ecker has urged both Sara and Fred Haselrig to file a missing-person report, but as of last weekend both had declined. "If I don't hear from him as the holidays near, I'll probably hire a detective or file a missing person report," Sara said on Sunday. Fred says he worries that if police are searching for his son, it might push him deeper into hiding.
According to the New York Post, Sara believes that a caller who has been ringing her number and hanging up after a few silent seconds is Haselrig—"just to let me know he's alive," she said.
And if he surfaces, should Haselrig be granted yet another chance by the NFL? Is football the best thing for a person whose psyche is so fragile? Bruce Haselrig believes his nephew would be better served by a lower-profile existence. "We sometimes wonder if it's football that made him go the other way," Bruce says. "He's had a lot of success. Did he succeed too quickly, and does he feel guilty about that success? I went home last night and hugged my kids and told them, 'Just be a regular Joe; you don't need those pressures.'
"He's still Carlton, still the person we love. He's got a lot of life to live. Regardless of what he's done, it's important for him to come back to us and start trying to be a normal person."