Is Joe Haden Invincible in Cleveland?

Joe Haden water break training camp

We looked past the diamond encrusted pendants that swung from his neck like a pendulum. We looked past the sunglasses indoors phenomenon that was so eloquently embraced. We did so because what happened on the field of play; a highly talented player isn’t exactly the norm when it comes to post-1999 Cleveland Browns football. Having a player who can make a game-changing play at nearly any time is a luxury. But if that player is going to miss up to four games in what is proving to be a very critical season, forcing an already weak reserve unit to compensate for his high-priced antics, one has to wonder if Joe Haden’s act will start to wear thin on some fans.

Haden’s resume is one that stretches well beyond the field of play. The 23-year-old cornerback came on to the scene in a very successful fashion having stepping in for an injured Eric Wright, becoming the first player since the late 1960s to intercept a pass in four consecutive contests. In totality, he hauled in six interceptions to go with his 64 tackles and one forced fumble. Since then, with much proliferation due to the Internet — specifically Twitter and Instagram — Haden took the term “fashion” to the next level. Rarely does a day go by when Haden isn’t disseminating pictures of his closet, rife with more hightop Jordans than could outfit the entire Eastern Conference. Lately, however, Haden has even raised his own bar by ensuring the entire town is aware of his crisp white Lamborghini Murcielago. The one that shares a garage with his Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Bentley Continental, BMW X6, and Rolls Royce.

He hasn’t intercepted a pass since December 26, 2010.

Certainly, these actions and acquired material items are not out of the realm of reality when it comes to a young multi-millionaire. Signing a $50 million deal with the Browns, Haden has been afforded things that are relegated to the pages of glossy magazines and Robin Leach specials when it comes to the majority of Browns fans. Courtside for Cavalier games1, autograph-signing appearances by the truckload and taking fans to their high school prom are all “day in the life” items for the baller status symbol that is Joe Haden. But as fan favorite for his actions on the field and his immediate willingness to embrace the city of Cleveland despite having known little of it prior to being drafted with the seventh-overall pick in 2010, Haden’s jet-setting may ultimately serve to cause him to miss a quarter of the 2012 NFL season, a season where ownership changes may only be the tip of the turnover iceberg.

It started as a rumor that many of us wanted to quickly sweep them under the orange and brown area rug. Then once the reports resurfaced, we clung to hopes that Haden had a prescription; we wanted to trivialize the drug as something that the run-of-the-mill collegiate student takes merely so he or she can finish a term paper in the wee hours of the night. But now that reports are surfacing that the Adderall-based charges are a combination of bad luck mixed with the rigor of a high-profile lifestyle, dissipating are the benefit-of-the-doubt opinions that were afforded to Haden during a season that saw him burnt by opposing wide receivers with the same frequency of a blackjack dealer or a roulette wheel.

Phil Taylor and Chris Gocong will miss time due to football-related activities. Scott Fujita will likely miss time due to a paper trail. If Haden misses time, it will be rooted more in selfishness than chivalry.

Haden will likely appeal any suspension which stems from this incident. The NFL has been inconsistent at best when it comes to testing positive for prescription medications, employing what is called a Therapeutic Use Exemption. Potentially helping Haden’s case is the fact that there was not much of a performance to enhance unless Roger Goodell has a stake in Caesar’s Palace. Certainly not hurting his case is his refusal to comment on matters, even if via some borderline third-person discourse. It is also speculated that, due to timing, Haden may actually have some luck on his side and an appeal could possibly push back any sort of missed time2 beyond the 2012 season.

Haden would have had to qualify for any exemption prior to taking a random test at some point this summer. A suspension would also cost him any chance at being named to the Pro Bowl as well as any honor which could be bestowed upon him for amassing an otherwise excellent season in the 12 games for which he would be eligible. The Browns, however, are already expected to prepare for Haden’s absence by promoting recently injured Dimitri Patterson to a starting role while and auditioning second-year speedster Buster Skrine and rookie Trevin Wade for the third cornerback spot.

There is no doubt that the Cleveland Browns are a better team with Joe Haden on the field than they are without him. His unbridled swagger is often warranted given his skill set and relative standing amongst Cleveland fans. One scan through any mentions on the player’s Twitter feed and it’s apparent that “Haden Nation” is still behind him 100 percent. But given the upcoming schedule and monumental franchise-altering decisions which could be made based on the collective outcomes, if the NFL provides Haden with four additional weeks to cruise around in his arsenal of high-end automobiles while sharing pictures of his crisp white J’s, absolutely no one in Cleveland will benefit, regardless of how many autographs and prom dates he decides to hand out.

Photo via WFNY

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Footnotes:

  1. Ultimately landing the cornerback at the last two NBA Drafts courtesy of one Daniel Gilbert []
  2. And money, as Haden is due to lose north of $1.35 million in game checks if a four-game suspension is in fact upheld []
  • MrCleaveland

    It’s time for some role model or mentor to sit him down and have a serious talk so that this doesn’t start spinning out of control.

  • thepaledragon

    Is there any indication that Haden has been anything less than good teammate? I don’t recall hearing anything about him causing any locker room problems or about him getting into legal trouble. He loves Cleveland and seems to give 100% on the field.

    As for his lack of interceptions last year…Haden has developed into enough of a shutdown corner that teams have started to avoid throwing to him.

  • Natedawg86

    1. “what is proving to be a very critical season” what is critical about this season?
    2. “has to wonder if Joe Haden’s act will start to wear thin on some fans” What act(s) are you referring to? He has been role model material for the most part.

  • Natedawg86

    Agree on both points. Interceptions are a funny stat. Some guys make athletic plays while blanketing the WR and others sometimes just have the luck of the ball floating their way.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    No, all accounts state that he is the consummate teammate.

    And I agree that interceptions are overrated from a benchmark standpoint, but multiple balls hit him in the hands last season; he admitted as much and has endeavored to improve on this facet for the upcoming season.

  • Mark mazz

    It’s okay to criticize his lifestyle. But his play on the field was well above average. While the interceptions weren’t there all other statistical indicators and even advanced metrics show haden had a strong season last year.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Critical season wherin another four-win year could mean more turnover from a coaching/front office standpoint. Reset buttons being what they are.

  • mgbode

    reading tea leaves only here:

    if this is true and not just some machination by his agent trying to move the
    rumor to a better place for his client, then I can see why he would
    appeal.

    the NFL may be treating this as a PED case. Haden/agent may be
    arguing it was recreational. the suspensions/punishments are different.

    so, it might take some time to sort out (which would explain the delay).

  • Wheel

    Sounds like he’s been spending too much time with ‘Big Money.’

  • http://twitter.com/clevezirm Jordan Zirm

    I’m not sure I understand the sudden attempt to turn Joe Haden into a villain. Now don’t get me wrong, if Haden did indeed use Adderall to fight his eyes from closing on some 24 hour party in Las Vegas (if the rumors that seem to be getting hotter by the day are true) then he should, and will be reprimanded. Using Adderall for that purpose is not only dumb, but also a little worrisome about a certain part of Haden’s personal life.

    But aside from that one incident, I am not sure what else there is to criticize about Haden on or off the field. He had a superb rookie year, and then fell back down to Earth in his second season. And although he did not register one interception, and was certainly beat more often than we were used to seeing, he made his fair share of pass breakups, and those should not go unnoticed. I expect a big year from him (if he can manage to stay on the field), and I think he knows that when it’s time to work, it’s time to work.

    As far as his embracing of Cleveland, it’s community and its nightlife, I couldn’t be happier that we had someone with so much “swag” giving so much love to the 216. To describe Haden’s attendance of Cavaliers and Indians games decked out in the respective’s teams garb as anything but awesome is incredulous to me. Sure, the Haden is flashy. But while he may own the same Lamborghini that Kanye West made the subject of “Mercy,” he also took drove that Lambo over to ILTHY, a local Cleveland clothing company, so he could buy their clothing and support their store. I will always understand that there are people who will hate any young athlete who is making large amounts of money and spending it on flashy shoes, cars, and necklaces. But that is who Joe Haden is. Having gone away to college in Missouri and now spending time in NYC, the reputation of Cleveland is not the shiniest, and I am so thankful we have had someone flashy like Haden letting the world know Cleveland is actually a pretty great place to be.

    So while the Adderall is concerning, I’m not sure I understand what part of his act would get tiring. All football players should be criticized for their play on the field if it isn’t up to par, whether they are driving a Lambo or a Nissan.

  • Big Z

    Your slander is WAY off base here. The guy’s been nothing but class since he showed up, now he’s made 1 mistake and you’re coming at him like he’s a criminal. I’m not buying it. Pretty lame bro.

  • Steve

    Go ahead and search hard for him here, good luck:

    http://footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2012/best-cornerback-charting-stats-2011

    He is listed here though:

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2012/worst-cornerback-charting-stats-2011/

    They had him targeted more often last year, and less successful in both stopping plays and bringing down the receiver than in his rookie year, where he was very good. Last year he was quite mediocre. He may have a reputation, but quarterbacks don’t seem to care as much about that as the results.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Not attempting to villainize as much as question how much goodwill has been built up.

    Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of his. I support the nightlife and cars and shoes; I’m jealous that I’m not afforded such. But in the same, I know a lot of people who get turned off by gallivanting. If the product on-field doesn’t back it up, it may only snowball. That’s my main concern.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    Not a fan of this article. Joe has done more than most athletes that come to Cleveland. When he was drafted he said he was turning in his Florida swag for Ohio stuff. He has lived up to that word so far. I hate that this happened but I am still behind Joe 100 percent. Once mistake doesnt make him a terrible guy that is spinning out of control. It was a bad descision and he needs to learn from it like we all do when we make mistakes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511408774 Eric Vandergriff

    The hate scale of this article is off the charts. This is a huge example of an attempt at social engineering. I haven’t seen anything negative about Haden until the Adderall incident and guess what, he didn’t even use it in a game! I am not saying abusing prescription drugs is right but he isnt the guy you portrayed him to be in this article. Lay off the guy and its not about Haden, its about you Scott.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511408774 Eric Vandergriff

    Based off the tone of this article I don’t believe you. I don’t know you but that isn’t how I talk about my flawed friends.

  • http://twitter.com/Mike_CavsHQ Michael Curry

    Was just about to post the same thing. Haden was thrown at 6th-most among CBs last season. Apparently Browns fans are thrilled that they were lucky enough to select the 30th-best CB in football with the #7 overall pick.

    I won’t comment about the drug use until it is proven, but Haden’s rep has FAR outclassed his performance on the field over the last year. His lack of interceptions last season was more about him failing to make plays than any quarterback avoiding his side of the field.

  • http://twitter.com/Dennymayo Denny

    Scooter Seargint is a hatter. How dare he besmooch the name of our highest-flying of Clevelandites?

  • Clown Baby

    I don’t think it’s fair that Scott reads these articles to you while the rest of us have to read them.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    I don’t even know where to begin here.

  • Blue_Guybrush

    Adderall is not a big deal. I think the reaction one has to that and to his conspicuous consumption is a generational thing.. I’m a college student now and addy-sans prescription is a totally commonplace thing, as is aspiring to a very baller lifestyle.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

    Slander is spoken, not written. This article was written, not spoken. And it’s not libel. You may want to brush up on that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rickymcinnes Richard McInnes

    stupid article – stop hating on your own team’s players

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    This is my favorite comment of the day so far…

  • mgbode

    if he misses 4 games because he took it, then, yes, it is a big deal. we’ll see what happens.

  • MrCleaveland

    Forget it, he’s rolling.

  • mgbode

    the NFL will suspend you for that too

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Favoritism.

  • Hopwin

    WFNY is trolling the fanbase too now?

  • http://twitter.com/jlkocher2 John Kocher

    how much has to do with the horrible safety play last year? why does that seem to be getting ignored? as good as any corner is, it is dependent on how much help they can rely on from the safeties.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    What exactly is it that Joe Haden shows Missouri and New York about how great Cleveland is? I mean, I know Cleveland is great, but it’s great to be a 23-year old NFL star with $50 million dollars pretty much anywhere.

    It’s one thing to enjoy celebrity, cars, jewelry, nightlife, etc., but nobody here needs to be told what kind of problems come when a person prioritizes those things at a certain level. It’s one thing to take some adderall for a pick-me-up in Vegas, and it’s another thing to get busted for it. Haden is one of the highest paid Browns. To those whom much has been given, etc. It’s just a troubling sign, and there’s nothing wrong with pointing that out.

  • Garry_Owen

    Awesome.

  • Garry_Owen

    I would recommend a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim.

  • http://twitter.com/Dennymayo Denny

    He consummates his team-ship? Gross.

  • http://twitter.com/Dennymayo Denny

    The author has no bases on which his article stands. Joe Hayden has given more to Cleveland than anyone has asked of him. He cares more about Cleveland than anyone else I know of — how many Cavs games did YOU attend last year, I ask of you rhetorically?

    He cares because of what he wears, and that is the colors of our beloved Cleveland sporting teams. I say good day to you sir, and your “article”, which is mostly a work of fiction and jealousy of which you could cut with a HAttori Hanso sword.

  • Mike E

    But he was just ballen. Maybe you’re just not worldly enough to understand…

  • http://twitter.com/Dennymayo Denny

    Anderson Varejao’s Enthusiasm Meter is not ‘off-the-charts’ after he read this comment.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    +1

  • Steve

    That didn’t seem to help Easy E keep his job here.

  • cmm13

    Any substance can be abused depending on the individual’s addiction level, so yes it could be a big deal.

    Could it have been a “hey man, this’ll keep you up” one time ordeal of course.

    Could it also be an ongoing occurrence that has finally been caught, of course as well. Which is exactly why the league has testing.

    Now, to look through the other side of the mirror is the league completely hypocritical for testing for prescription pills while at the same time using their own physicians like pushers with troughs of painkillers readily available for anyone with a “boo boo”, of course.

  • cmm13

    “social engineering”…you keep using this word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    /princessbride’d

    Seriously, recheck the definition on that one. You’re using it wrong.

  • Ericj_d

    Maybe the comment of the year.

  • TobaccoRoad

    To answer Scott’s question, Haden does indeed have a lot of goodwill built up and deservedly so. He fully embraces the city and plays pretty well on the field, too. His only fault is that he was summoned for a random offseason drug test and tested positive for a drug millions of young people take everyday (for both good and bad reasons). Was it an somewhat irresponsbile decision on Haden’s part? Yes. But the guy didn’t get a DUI, wasn’t caught with weed or cocaine and isn’t taking PEDs. Missing games is missing games, but NFL players (in this city alone) have done much worse.

  • http://twitter.com/clevezirm Jordan Zirm

    It’s fine to point it out. It’s another thing to take one mistake from a professional sports player and make it seem like we’ve turned a blind eye to some greater evil that is dwelling inside of Joe Haden. While Joe Haden certainly does enjoy his flashy purchases, I’m not sure you, or anyone for that matter, has the right to say Haden “prioritizes” that lifestyle over his work on the field. None of us are in the gym or on the field with Haden in the offseason of the regular season to assume that he cares more about his sneaker collection that playing football.

    And when you have an athlete like Joe Haden who pays good money to sit courtside at a Cavs game or decides to spend his money at a local Cleveland clothing company and fully embrace the city, it goes a hell of a long way to showing people out of town that we have a big time football player who actually enjoys being in the city he plays in.