He wasn’t even a part of the team, at least physically, at the time that it happened, but even wide receiver Josh Gordon failed to see the reasoning behind the Cleveland Browns’ decision to released cornerback Joe Haden in August. Their 2010 first-round draft pick immediately turned around and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the same day.
Now, depending in whether or not the Steelers let Haden rest, coming off a fibula fracture, Haden may be covering Gordon in tomorrow’s regular season finale in the first game that the wide receiver has seen against Pittsburgh in a number of years, after serving multiple suspensions that have kept him off the field for a long time.
“I was definitely confused” about the organization’s move in cutting ties with Haden, Gordon told reporters earlier this week;. “I think most of us were on that decision. It just didn’t make much sense at the time but like most of those decisions that go on up top, they call the shots and whatever they see fit to do or fit to make a decision on, it’s kind of how they play it”.
At the time that Haden was released, Gordon was on the suspended list. He was prepared to return to the field last year before having a relapse. Just before he was scheduled to be activated, he made the decision to check into rehab.
That appears to have been a wise decision, even if it made the road back that much longer, as he is now back on the field and producing, and has even seemingly become something of a spokesperson for the organization, or so it seems based on the number of situations that he has been interviewed about.
Gordon was a second-round draft pick in the 2012 supplemental draft. Had he been able to maintain his eligibility, he would be playing in his sixth season by now. Instead, he is only in his third season, officially, based on accrued experience.
“My first couple of years when I was here, he helped bring me along and we helped each other grow as players more than anything just on the practice field”, he said about Haden, who was in his third season when Gordon was a rookie.
“Figuring out as a younger player how to develop myself when it came to the practice field, the amount of effort it’s going to take to get open on a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback, he gave me the best look at practice that I’ve ever seen”, he added, “so huge thanks to him”.
Like all of his former teammates who have gone to battle with him, Gordon is happy to see Haden back on his feet, playing well, and finally seeing success. “I’m glad he’s back healthy so he gets an opportunity to play in the playoffs and really gets to experience that”, he said. “I can only imagine what they would feel like”.