The city of Cleveland, its fans and all of its sports teams mean something special to Browns defensive back Joe Haden, and he made that clear once again Monday in a first-person account of his experience watching the Cavaliers end the 52-year championship drought.
Haden, in an article for MMQB.com, detailed his emotions and future goals following the Cavs' improbable, NBA Finals-clinching, 93-89 victory over the Warriors. He captured the city's continued reaction by opening the article with a simple "oh my goodness."
"So the Curse is dead. The Cavaliers are champs," Haden wrote. "Now we've got to work like LeBron and the Cavs to get ours. This is motivation for our city, and motivation for our team. I am just so ready to go win a championship right now."
A Maryland native, Haden immediately embraced all of the city's sports franchises when the Browns drafted him in 2010 and has been one of the team's most vocal supporters during the good times and bad. Haden was in town for the game-clinching victory and was a constant presence at the team's home games, sitting courtside for Cleveland's memorable Game 6 victory Thursday.
He's seen plenty that can be carried over to the football field on Sundays.
"It's a lot like in football—you're only as good as your last play. I feel that as a cornerback. You can have four pass breakups and an interception in a game, but you get beat one time late in the fourth quarter on a double move, and it doesn't matter what came before that … you've had a bad game," Haden wrote. "LeBron faces that every game, 82 times a year, and through the playoffs. I'm so tired of the LeBron haters. Six straight NBA Finals! He led every player in this series in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Who does that? So show him some love—forever. Stop looking at the glass half-empty. Come on.
"There's something about the hope he brings, too. That's important. When the Cavs were down 3-1, and they needed to win two games at Golden State to win the series, nobody gave them a chance. But LeBron believed—or at least he played like he believed. There's a lesson in that for all of us in Cleveland. I know it's a lesson that's going to help me."
Check out the rest of Haden's article at MMQB.com.