Browns cornerback Joe Haden expressed remorse for using the stimulant Adderall -- calling it "my very dumb mistake" -- which led to his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on banned substances.
"I would like to apologize to my fans, Haden Nation, the Cleveland Browns organization, front office, all the coaches," Haden told reporters. "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 sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart. There's no script. Nobody told me what to say. I just feel that and I want everybody to know that it was a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes, but my mistake happened to hurt a lot more people than I thought."
Now that Haden has said all the right things about his off-the-field mistake, he has to focus on Sunday's on-the-field challenge: defending Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. The last time they met was last November, when Green beat Haden for a 51-yard catch that set up the winning field goal. Green ranks fifth in the NFL in receptions (36) and receiving yards (493).
"Perfect timing," Haden said of his matchup with Green. "At least when I come back, I can try to make a statement going against somebody in the division like him. I feel like once I come back and just do my thing this game, and then I'll just be back."
It would be a statement for Haden to have a strong game. Playing well against Green would show he's been doing all the right things while away from the team (other than getting engaged). Haden talked about how he went back to Washington, where he owns a gym, and worked out there.
Haden is known for being a player who likes to spend money. He reportedly owns six luxury cars. Haden acknowledged that he spoke to team leaders but they didn't try to convince him to change his lifestyle.
To say the Browns have missed Haden would be an understatement. Cleveland ranks 26th in pass defense and has allowed 12 touchdowns through the air. (No team has given up more.)
Haden refused to say his absence cost the winless Browns any victories.
"I'm just saying that if I'm out there then I'm definitely a help to the team," he said.