Monday, December 2, 2013
Haden handles emotional outburst like a pro
By Pat McManamon
Joe Haden voluntarily visited the Cleveland Browns' locker room Monday, one day after an emotional outburst following Sunday's loss to Jacksonville was played and re-played locally and nationally.
In calm, reasoned tones -- dare we call it “professional” -- Haden explained what led his emotions to boil: Years of losing and another season of losing combined with his giving up the game-winning touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts.
Haden said a player should be upset about losing, and losing over and over and over makes him more upset.
Haden is a classic example of a guy who could get chewed up in a bad situation in Cleveland. Losing wears on a player. Even good ones get frustrated and start to press, which affects their play.
Haden can play better than he has the past two weeks, but cornerbacks will get beat for touchdowns.
What he's been trying to do is rise above the negativity that constantly festers in Cleveland.
In his years as a Brown, they have won five, four, five and (this season) four games. But a month ago, this Browns season appeared heading for some promise, as they exulted at heading to the bye week 4-5. They talked about playing meaningful games in November, then played so bad in them they're removed from meaningful games in December.
The unspoken concern for the Browns is that Haden has one more year on his contract. If he become the player they believe he can, it would be wise to re-sign him. But if Haden grows weary of losing ...
Haden contributed to the losses a year ago by getting suspended for the first four games. This season, he's been a different person. He's been responsible, accountable and dedicated to improving himself on and off the field.
His professionalism can't be questioned.
Yet against the Jaguars he bit on a slant-and-go on third-and-9 with less than a minute left. “What was I thinking?” he asked.
Giving up that play contributed to his psyche after the game.
“I was so upset because it was me against another player at the end of the game,” he said. “I'm supposed to make that play.”
Haden's coach backed him. While some coaches might shy from players voicing their frustrations, Rob Chudzinski sees to embrace it.
“I want guys who are like that and feel that way,” Chudzinski said. “He's a great player. He made a mistake. It happens to everybody. The important thing is how he reacts to it and learns from it.”
Haden has room to grow as a player, clearly. The track he's taken this season has him heading in the right direction. How he handled this situation does nothing to chip away at that belief.
But he's trying to rise above in a losing culture, a losing environment.
If that is ever to change, guys like Haden are going to have to fight through the mess and help the team get to the winning side.