Haden: 'I play football because I love it'

A Closer Look: Joe Haden

Position: Cornerback
Experience: 9th Season
College: Florida
Twitter Handle: @joehaden23

Who is your football mentor or inspiration?
I really looked up to Michael Vick when I was younger. I always played quarterback. I didn't start playing cornerback until I got to college. Michael Vick was somebody I looked up to because I always wanted to be a professional quarterback. I also looked up to Deion Sanders. Those two were my football idols.

What motivates you?
My family. Always wanting to be the best. I think those two things and my spirituality, knowing God blessed me with the talent to be able to play this game. I just want to give it my all, be the best that I can be. Then having my family looking up to me, being the oldest of five boys, my brothers being there. Then having my mom and dad raising me well, always being there for me. I never had an excuse to mess up. They always said son just go to school, get good grades and try your best. For them, my brothers and for God I just want to put my best foot forward.

What has been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?
My brother is special needs, he can't speak. It wasn't a challenge for me, but it challenged me to always do my best, go as hard as I can because my brother can't do all of that stuff. Just going extra hard because your younger brother would if he could. I didn't want to let Jacob down. He is my biggest fan, always so upbeat. If that was me, I couldn't imagine. Me seeing how hard he goes, I wouldn't let him down.

What scares you?
Failure. Not being the best. People not thinking I am good enough. Or not being good enough. Being in the situation I am in, I worked as hard as I could, because I didn't want people to say I wasn't good enough. Just failure. Knowing I could do it and not preparing myself mentally, physically, to be in the situation to be in the position I am. Literally, failure.

When did you start to dream about playing in the NFL?
When I was a little kid it just seemed so far-fetched. When I watched the NFL people, I could never really see myself out there with them. I was highly recruited in high school, had a lot of offers going into college, but that is still not the NFL. After my freshman year at Florida was the first time in my heart I thought I could go to the NFL. I was freshman All-American. It was my first year playing corner. Going into my sophomore year they were talking about the draft being two years away and I was in the top five of the corners. After my sophomore year I was rated the No. 1 junior coming into the draft the next season. After my freshman year I thought this might happen. After my sophomore year I was like I am going to the NFL.

Why do you play football?
I play football because I love it. I started playing organized tackle football when I was seven. What my parents did, that was so great and I want to do for my kids, they never forced me to play. I would be like dad, come outside, throw the football with me. He never talked about how many touchdowns I scored. He said did you try your hardest. If I did my best, he was so happy with the result. In high school I was like dad what can I do better. I did my best, but what can I do better. He didn't put pressure on me. I was playing quarterback, scoring touchdowns. My first play ever playing football was a 99-yard touchdown. I was like this is fun. I just loved it. As I got older I kept playing, got scholarship offers and thought I can play football for free. But I never thought about playing in the NFL until college.

What is your proudest football moment or memory?
Being a first-round draft pick. I never thought about going to the league and then was a Top 10 pick. I worked so hard, grinded, kept clean, kept my nose out of trouble. Football worked out. That was something I was super happy about because it was something I worked for.

When you hear Steelers football, what do you think?
I think of championships, consistency, and success at a very high level. It's done all of the time here. Being that consistently good here for years and years.

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