The Cleveland Browns have been without third-year defensive back Joe Haden for the last four games as the team’s first-round pick from 2010 served a league-mandated four-game suspension following the season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
That suspension concluded after Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. A contrite Haden was back in the building and ready for work on Monday morning.
“I’d like to apologize to my fans, Haden Nation, the Cleveland Browns organization, the front office, all the coaches,” Haden said. “I hurt a lot of people. I hurt myself for sure, but I hurt a lot of people with the decision I made and I just want everybody to know that I really, sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart.
“There’s no script; nobody told me what to say. I just really feel that and want to let everybody know it was a mistake. My mistake happened to hurt a lot more people than I thought.”
Haden called his situation “just a very dumb mistake.”
“It wasn’t any intent to hurt the team or hurt anybody in that kind of way,” Haden said. “It was just a young man making a decision that I shouldn’t have made. I honestly just want to move forward and just come out here and play.”
Prior to serving his suspension, Haden made six total tackles and collected one interception -- which he returned for 50 yards -- in the Browns’ season-opening loss to the Eagles at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Haden went the entire 2011 season without an interception, but still started 15 games, made 65 tackles and broke up a team-leading 19 passes.
Having only missed one game through the first two years of his career, Haden said sitting at home and watching the four games was “real tough.”
“Nothing’s like being out here with my boys on Sunday,” Haden said. “I came in early today. I was probably one of the first people in here just to be around the dudes, go to see my equipment people, holler at all the coaches, tell them I missed them and I was happy that everybody was happy to see me.
“Being able to sit there and watch the games is way different than being out there playing. I see what the fans see, all the replays and how the games could just (hurt) your stomach. When I’m playing, when the offense is on, I’m sitting down, trying to get corrections for the defense. When you see every snap from every angle, it’s a whole different look and I didn’t like that look at all. I wanted to be out there playing.”
While serving the suspension, Haden returned to Washington, D.C. and worked out at his family’s training facility. He described the work at Haden Sports Performance as being similar to his preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine.
Haden will put that training to the test against Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“At least when I come back, I’ll try to make a statement going against somebody in the division like him,” Haden said. “I feel like once I come back and do my thing this game, I’ll just be right back.”