If you thought that you’d heard the last of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, then you’d better think again, because the Tequila Cowboy still rides in the AFC North, now with the Cleveland Browns.
For most, six seasons of hearing him talk was enough, but as long as he remains with the Browns, we are still occasionally going to get to hear from him. Earlier today, for example, he spoke to reporters for the first time since signing on with the team, and he had some things to say about his time in Pittsburgh, as would be expected.
“I had six really good years in Pittsburgh. I was brought in to do a job, [and] I feel like I did that job, or more”, he began. He said that he and the offense “did a lot of really good things. We developed arguably the best receiver in the league. We developed arguably the best back in the league. One of the top quarterbacks in the league consistently. Did a lot of really good things, scored a lot of points”.
“I’m really fond of my time there. It’s a place that meant a lot to me”, Haley continued, talking about how his father, Dick Haley, played for the team in the early 1960s and later was their director of player personnel for three decades from 1971 to 1990. “To be able to go to Pittsburgh and have six really good years was really something that I enjoyed”, he summarized.
Haley also talked about the team that he took over when he was brought in for the 2012 season. He talked above about developing “arguably the best receiver in the league”, that being Antonio Brown. At the time, he was coming off his second season in which he caught 69 passes for 1108 yards and two touchdowns.
“When I got there, Antonio Brown wasn’t the Antonio Brown everybody knows”, Haley said. “There was great development there, and in this league, if you don’t develop players, you’re probably going to fail”. Brown became a full-time starter in his first season under Haley and caught 66 passes for 787 yards, but with five touchdowns, while being limited to 13 games. He has since developed into a perennial All-Pro.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Haley was also asked about his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which is widely believed to be the primary catalyst for his departure from Pittsburgh after six seasons. “I don’t have a lot to say about it”, he said. “I do know that how I was mentored and taught early was that a coach’s job is to come in and coach the players, develop the players first and foremost. That has to be number one, and that’s really how I go about business”.
While not directly saying it, one might read between the lines that he acknowledges he might have somewhat of an abrasive approach to coaching players. Still, he added, “I’ve developed a lot of great relationships in Pittsburgh with players and staff and coaches. I have nothing but fond memories”.
Haley also framed his exit from his prior organization in a way that is probably disingenuous at best. “After sitting down and talking, it was time for me to move on to a new challenge”, he said, which I guess is a euphemism for “they wanted to go with a different person for my job”.