Haden hopes for best with Gordon

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden knows what wide receiver Josh Gordon is going through, as the All-Pro pass catcher is facing an indefinite suspension for violating the league's Substance Abuse Policy.

Haden has been in Gordon's shoes, as the Pro Bowl cornerback was suspended for four games at the start of the 2012 regular season for failing a drug test for having Adderall in his system at the time of an offseason test.

"When you're away from it, it makes you want it more," Haden said. "It makes you miss it. It makes you appreciate it. That's how I took it when I was gone. I wanted to be back, and I came back with a hungrier, more 'waiting to be here' feel."

Since the end of the Browns' offseason program, and in addition to the reported failed drug test, Gordon has twice been ticketed for going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, and his latest traffic infraction resulted in him being arrested for driving while impaired in North Carolina.

"I hope for the best for his situation. J.G. is what he is, a really good player, solid," Haden said. "He's actually a great player and helps out the team. It would definitely be a big loss, but that's why we have depth now. People have to step up."

Haden expressed the same sentiments about how much he missed the game after returning from his suspension back in October of 2012.

"Nothing's like being out here with my boys on Sunday," Haden said back in 2012. "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."

In addition to learning just how deep his love for the game goes during his suspension, Haden also realized the responsibilities he had to those who placed their trust in him.

"I hurt a lot of people," Haden said then. "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.

"It wasn't any intent to hurt the team or hurt anybody in that kind of way. 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."

During his month-long suspension, Haden got engaged to his long-time girlfriend, and now, wife, Sarah, and took the time to refocus his life on football and God. His change in lifestyle led to a Pro Bowl campaign last year and him becoming the NFL's highest-paid cornerback with a recent contract extension worth $68 million.

"It's been a long ride, a little bit of bumps in the road, but now, it's all coming together," Haden said. "I'm super, super blessed. I got married, and that helped me out a whole lot, just calmed (me) down. I got into the Bible a lot more, and it's been a whole lot more about football. I think that's what really helped me out.

"The outside distractions, a lot of that stuff can get you mixed up because when you first come in and you're making a lot of money and things are all going good, you can lose sight. I think I have my priorities in order, and that really helped me out."

And the Browns are hoping for a similar turnaround for Gordon.

"Josh is learning and growing and improving as a person," owner Jimmy Haslam said at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club back in May. "He's learning how to work hard. He's learning how to become a professional. Josh is a smart young man. All of us have made mistakes when we were that age.

"We're counting on Josh to be a good football player for the Cleveland Browns for a long time to come. I've been very pleased with his professional growth over the last year and the way he handles himself."


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