The day the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to sign the recently released Joe Haden was a day many fans remember. Bringing in the former first round draft pick was a sign of the Steelers shoring up one of their weakest positions, and Haden paid big time dividends for the black and gold.
While fans certainly remember that day, so does Haden. Heading into the bye week Haden spoke with media and rehashed the memories of his release from the Cleveland Browns and being acquired by the Steelers.
“Oh my gosh, this gave me new life,” said Haden. “When I was playing in Cleveland, it was amazing, the fans and everything. But it was just the turnover. I had six different head coaches, six different position coaches. There was a lot of change.
“Coming here and having Coach (Mike) Tomlin being the perfect head coach. You have Mr. (Art) Rooney II being the owner. A great general manger. Them being here for so long.
“Here, legit, there is no playing, no gray area. You do your job. You work hard. You practice hard. You play as a pro. Do all of that and you’re fine. It’s all about winning here. I just love the fact that there’s no gray area. You just come here and do what you got to do. The coaches respect you as a man and you do what you’ve got to do.”
As if someone had to ask, but when it comes to Haden’s thoughts on head coach Mike Tomlin, the reviews are glowing.
“I love Coach. I love Coach Tomlin to death. I can’t even,” said Haden. “He’s my favorite coach I’ve ever played for my entire life. And I’m not just saying that because I’m here. He is just a leader of men. Those team meetings. I sit in those team meetings, and I can’t wait for him to start talking. Anything he says, he just delivers a great message.”
The 2021 Steelers have had a rough go of it early in the season, but Haden believes the Steelers’ tight locker room is strong enough to get the team completely out of the 1-3 hole they dug themselves just two weeks ago.
“It’s just a place where everybody’s coming together for a common goal. Where you can have that type of bond. It’s a brotherhood that you can’t really get anywhere else. I think when I get out of the league, that is what I am going to miss the most, that locker room. You can’t make it up with anything else.”
With Haden now aging, there were rumors of Haden looking for a contract extension at season’s end. When the Steelers weren’t interested, Haden’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said the former Florida Gator will hit free agency for the first time in his career. The way Haden speaks of Tomlin and the Steelers organization you would think there is still a chance he returns, but that is only if the Steelers believe he can still play at a high level.
Haden’s play will be a huge factor in the Steelers’ success, or failure, this regular season, and he gets another shot at revenge with the team who drafted him in Week 8 when the Steelers travel to play the Cleveland Browns in Ohio.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of the regular season.