By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
Joe says it’s so: Browns cornerback Joe Haden confirmed his four-game NFL suspension was for using Adderall and apologized to “my fans, Haden Nation, the Cleveland Browns organization, the front office.”
“I hurt a lot of people,” Haden said. “I hurt myself, for sure. I hurt a lot of people with the decision I made. I just want everybody to know I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart. It was a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes but my mistake hurt a lot more people than I thought.”
Haden declined to comment on reports that he used Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, to stay awake during a visit to Las Vegas in July.
“I took Adderall and I shouldn’t have and I got suspended and now I’m back,” he said.
A league source told ESPN Cleveland that Haden’s argument in his appeal was that his positive test should have been treated as a violation of the league’s policy on substance abuse rather than the policy on anabolic steroids and related substances. A first offender of the substance abuse policy would be admitted to the league’s drug program and not suspended.
Haden’s appeal was denied because he did not demonstrate a need for Adderall and receive a Therapeutic Use Exemption prior to his positive test.
A costly mistake: The suspension cost Haden 4/17ths of his 2012 base salary -- $1.356 million – and disqualifies him from Pro Bowl consideration and any other post-season awards.
When asked if he thought the penalty was excessive, Haden said, “God, do I? … (But) it’s written. It’s in there. I should have been more knowing what’s going on. I’ve served my four-game suspension and I honestly just want to move forward and come out and play.”
As for not being eligible for the Pro Bowl – a pre-season goal of his – Haden said, “It’s in the book. Whatever they have up for me. I did what I shouldn’t have done. So whatever punishment, I’m willing to take. I just know I’ll have Pro Bowl numbers by the end of the year. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Haden was able to play the first game because the NFL did not rule on his appeal in time. In the 17-16 loss to Philadelphia, Haden had six tackles, one pass breakup and an interception and 50-yard return.
In the four games that Haden missed, the Browns gave up 10 touchdown passes to Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco and Eli Manning, while intercepting three passes.
The Browns lost all four games to extend their losing streak over two years to 11 games – matching a franchise record.
“I think if I had been out there, of course, I think things would be different,” Haden said. “But at the same time, the players in there playing are all NFL caliber. Buster (Skrine), he’s out there fighting, fighting, doing what he can. T(revin)-Wade, D(imitri)-Patterson. So I can’t say I would’ve made the plays, but I always think when I’m out there I make a difference.
“I’m not saying I cost them (wins), I’m just saying if I’m out there I’m a definite help to the team. I’m not saying I would get picks or anything.”
Back to the grind: Haden said he kept in shape by working out with his dad at a gym he owns in Washington, D.C. He also got engaged to his girlfriend.
Haden could not enter the Browns facility during the suspension and could not have any contact with team officials or coaches. But he said he received texts of encouragement from teammates. He said they welcomed him back with open arms. Haden also said coach Pat Shurmur was compassionate.
“Me and coach we have a special relationship. We get along really well,” Haden said. “I apologized to him. One thing he was really about, he said, ‘Alright Joe, we can’t be upset about this, we have to move forward. Let’s get going.’”
Shurmur wouldn’t disclose anything of his conversation with Haden.
“He’s one of our better defensive players, so him being back, you know, we’re glad to have him back,” Shurmur said.
Haden said he’s looking forward to “making a statement” in his first game back Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium against division rival Cincinnati and Bengals receiver A.J. Green.
“Perfect timing,” Haden said. “I feel like once I come back and just do my thing this game, then I’ll be right back.”
Moments before Haden delivered his apology in the locker room, Dimitri Patterson, the player who took his place as the No. 1 cornerback, hobbled in on a pair of crutches with a walking boot on his left foot. Patterson said he suffered a lower sprain of the ankle and was told he would be out “a couple weeks.”
“We’ve just had a run of bad luck here,” Patterson said. “We haven’t been able to get all our guys on the field together. It’s been a tough deal.”
Shurmur declined to give meaningful updates of two other starters that left the Giants game, middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (concussion) and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (lower leg).
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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