Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden has quietly made a name for himself as rising cornerbacks in the NFL. Since entering the league back in 2010 Haden has continued to work on his game individually, while contributing to the growth of the Browns. Haden does maintain other interests like his style off the field and his interest as a sports fan of the other Cleveland teams. We recently spoke with Haden about his sneaker game to what his goals are for this upcoming season.
Interview by Rafael Canton (@RafelitoC7)
How do you feel about the state of the Cleveland Browns after the Draft?
I feel like our first round pick was a good pick. [Barkevious Mingo] is a solid defensive pass-rusher/outside linebacker. He can get to the quarterback and disrupt things. He’ll make it a lot easier on me as far as not letting the quarterback sit back comfortable throwing passes.
What do you see the Browns doing this year with all the moves made this summer?
I see a definite improvement from last season. it’s another year with [Brandon] Weeden growing, Trent [Richardson] being healthy, Josh Gordon growing into his role as a No. 1 receiver and Greg Little has been doing a really good job. The new coaching staff in general is a whole new different feel. Everybody feels like we have a lot of talent—physical players all around on the offensive and defensive side. We have more experience, and I feel like the leadership as far as our coaches has been amazing. They have so much passion and it just rubs off on the players.
Was there ever a cornerback that you patterned your game after or watched film on to learn the position?
The corner I was looking up to was Deion Sanders, of course. Everyone wanted to be like Deion. Of the people that are playing now, I watched Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, and Darrelle Revis. Just to see what they do and try to take the best parts of their game. I study myself a lot just to try and see what my weaknesses are, like if I was a wide receiver what would I try to do against myself and try to get those weaknesses out of my game.
The NFL is definitely different. It’s going to be a process. You’re not really used to this much money, so just stay humble and hungry, and just listen to your coaches.
What’s your advice for the rookies that were recently drafted?
Come in hungry and just don’t get down. I came in as a first round—seventh pick—and I was expected to come in early and just ball out. The NFL is definitely different. It’s going to be a process. You’re not really used to this much money, so just stay humble and hungry, and just listen to your coaches. And you know you’re good enough to play here so just use your ability and your resources.
You mentioned that you were the seventh pick in the Draft. Did you ever feel any pressure going so high?
When people say that you get drafted so high and if I feel the pressure, I don’t agree. When you’re drafted, the teams are picking you that high based off of potential. Basically, they want a player that can play right away. No one wants to get drafted early and then just sit on the bench. When you’re drafted high, there is a higher expectation, but at the same time you know your ability and you know they wouldn’t take you at that spot if they knew you couldn’t perform. The staff and the coaches give you all the resources and chances to be one of the best so you just need to take advantage of it and just go out there and give it your all.
All of your brothers have played high school and college football. How competitive was it in the Haden household?
It was super competitive. Those backyard games were crazy. We’re so close in age. I’m 24 and my youngest brother is 17. The whole time we were in school, we were always competitive, always competing against each other in basketball, football, and racing. We just wanted to be the fastest, wanted to be the best in basketball, wanted to be the best in football, and the little pickup games could get really serious.
What’s it like offering advice to your younger brothers who are going through the same experiences that you already went through?
My little brothers will call me and just ask me little things about technique. My youngest brother is in high school and he’s getting recruited by colleges right now. I just try to keep him humble and focused. I also have a younger brother who plays for Toledo and he actually plays corner. He calls me and asks for advice on technique. It’s the best when your brothers can call you, and I can give them legitimate NFL advice like what I’m doing to get my footwork better and what I’m doing to learn offenses.
What’s the first pair of sneakers that you ever bought with your own money?
Oh my goodness, I probably bought some dress shoes to the Draft with my own money.
What’s your No. 1 rule to live by when it comes to sneakers?
My thing is basically what I like. I wear spiked Louboutins, Louboutins with jewels on them, Jordans, KDs. It’s not about the "in" thing. it’s about what I like to wear. I look at a shoe, and if everybody else likes it, and I just don’t like it, then I’m not going to wear it. It’s what I like, so my motto is not getting hip to what everyone else says is nice. Just certain shoes, I won’t like them, so just wear what you like.
How would you define your style?
As far as my style, I just like to have a little bit "out there" type of style. I wear the leather underwear pants, spike up Louboutins, colorful Jordans. I like to be different and be flashy. I like jewelry, watches, and chains. Sometimes you could just wear stuff that people wouldn’t put together, I try to put together.
What inspires some of the different haircuts you have had over the past few years?
Just trying to be different. When I first started getting the Mohawks I was at the University of Florida and we were playing for the national championship. I was like 'man how about the whole secondary get Mohawks’ and everyone decided to get one. I liked my Mohawk so I kept it and just started putting different designs in it.
What are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to some Cleveland stuff. Some Ray Jr. I listen to Future, Drake, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz. I like all turn up music.
You go to Cleveland Cavaliers games decked out in the full Cavaliers outfit, so what inspires your interest in the Cavs?
LeBron James is my favorite basketball player, so he was here when I first got drafted, and I couldn’t wait to go to all the Cavs games and just kick it, basically. I’m a big sports fan. I like baseball, basketball, arena football, hockey. I just like going to sporting events. I knew that whatever city I went to, I knew that I was going to embrace the city and whatever sports that they had.
It happened to be Cleveland, and now the Cavs have Kyrie, Dion Waiters, with the team being in Cleveland. Everyone knows each other. I hang out with some of the Cavs players when they're not on the court. That means we’re going to be even bigger fans because it’s not just a player on the court that’s my friend because we hang out. It was just love and respect to make sure that I go out and watch them play all the time. With how much Cleveland loves them, I just wanted to show them that I’m with y’all too, I’m coming out here to support them.
The Browns are due for a push, the Indians are still trying to figure things out and the Cavs have a promising future with Kyrie. What do you think about the Cleveland sports scene now?
I think the Indians are just investing in some really good talent, and the Cavs with Kyrie Irving, they have a main piece, and if Anderson can get healthy, and Dion Waiters is a helluva player. Tristan Thompson is growing, so it’s looking on the up and up for Cleveland sports. The Browns are going to be straight, and so are the Indians and the Cavs.
What are your team goals for this upcoming season?
I want our team to be on the plus side of .500. I think our team has the potential to be great. I just want us to start getting up there by making the playoffs, and once we hit the playoffs, anything can happen.
What are some of your individual goals this season?
I think this year is going to be my breakout season. I’d like to be known nationally as one of the best corners in the league, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make that happen this year. I want to be a household name, make the Pro Bowl this year, lead our defense and be one of the top five defenses in the NFL this year.