Avery Williamson just went from the worst team in the league to the best team in the league, at least based on statistical record, when he was traded from the 0-8 New York Jets to the 7-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. Perhaps Joe Haden felt something not dissimilar when he signed with the Steelers back in August of 2017 on the same day that the Cleveland Browns released him.
Now in his fourth season with the team, and with 11 interceptions among other accomplishments of note under his belt during that time, the veteran cornerback has established himself long ago as a leader of this unit both on and off the field, and is as much a ‘Steeler’ as anybody who was drafted by the team.
In fact, he recently shared his experiences first coming to Pittsburgh when he sat down with Bud Dupree for a chat recently on the linebacker’s show through the team’s website, Bud Brought a Buddy. Dupree asked him what he was thinking when he first came to Pittsburgh, coming over from the Browns.
It was crazy, because I’d been playing the Steelers for seven years when I was with the Browns. I played them twice a year every year. Ben was here the whole time. AB was here the whole time, we got drafted the same year. Coach Tomlin was there. Pouncey, I went to school with and Gilbert, so I always knew dudes here.
I saw they were doing it the right way. They were always beating us. So I was just like, ‘man, this is a cool place to play’. Coach T was always just the nicest dude. I talked to him during the draft process, and he was like, ‘Joe, you’re going too early, so we’re not gonna be able to get you’. I’m like, ‘ah! Maybe later on in life’.
Just being able to come here, meeting you, meeting Ben, meeting AB, and then just being able to work with all of you on the practice field, just seeing—like, I got to play against AB. At practice, with Ben? I’m like, ‘yes, this makes me feel so much better, they’re doing this in practice too. It’s not just a fluky thing. These dudes are some of the best dudes I’ve ever played with’. So being able to come from there and come here and know already who you dudes were, it was super amazing.
It hasn’t been all roses and sunshine since he’s been here—in fact, they have missed the playoffs more often than they have made it so far in his tenure, though they’re almost sure to balance it in 2020—but then again, he is coming from a team that hasn’t been in the postseason since he was 13 years old.