Steelers' Joe Haden ready for playoff debut, happy to avoid 'lame' parade mocking Browns

"It's crazy, cause it's like, we're in the playoffs and we don't even have to play this week. I'm like 'what the?'" Joe Haden said. Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers cornerback Joe Haden would usually be sitting at home during this time of the year.

Haden never even sniffed the playoffs for the first seven seasons of his career as a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns won a combined 29 games while Haden was there, and the 2017-18 group just became the second NFL team to go 0-16. From 2010 to 2016, during this time of year, Haden was back home in California, watching other teams play on TV.

"I was telling [my teammates] that I was watching them play against the Patriots last year," he said. "I was just sitting in my crib and I'd always been doing that, watching good teams. ... I'd been in my offseason for two weeks, in my offseason for three weeks, and teams are still playing football. ...

"And now other teams are looking at me like, 'Oh he's still playing.' And I'm like 'Yeah, we're still out here.'"

While Haden prepares for his first postseason game, the Browns, who released him in August, have to deal with a parade some fans are preparing to conduct on Saturday to mock the 0-16 season.

"It is what it is," Haden said. "I feel like if you want to be that miserable and go have an 0-16 parade, then have fun.

"I just think it's lame. I think they went 0-16, the organization and everybody is not happy with it. I feel like the fans, they're not going to be happy about celebrating an 0-16 parade. I just think it's really lame."

Haden is anything but miserable after signing with the Steelers. He started 10 games in the regular season and helped them to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye.

Haden will be watching football on the couch again this weekend, but this time it's with the knowledge that more football lies ahead for him.

"It's crazy 'cause it's like, we're in the playoffs and we don't even have to play this week. I'm like 'what the?'" Haden joked.

It's a weird feeling for Haden to know that the misery of an 0-16 season could have been his reality.

"It's probably very, very tough," he said, noting he still watches the Browns when he can. "You try to always look in the mirror and figure out what you could've did more. What could I have done better for us to win a game or two. It's just tough for everybody. It's tough for the coaching staff, it's tough for the players."

In some ways, this new success is foreign to him. Haden pointed out that 22-year-old cornerback Artie Burns has more playoff experience than he does after playing in the postseason last year as a rookie. But he said he firmly believes it's all happened for a reason.

"At the time when I got released by the Browns, everybody was going 'Oh, Joe got cut by the Browns!' And you don't want to look at it like that," Haden said. "I'm looking at it as an opportunity to further my career somewhere else. ...

"I went seven years as hard as I could, played my tail off, I gave them everything I had. So when I was released from there, it was more like, 'All right, well, I guess you probably want to go somewhere else,' but I look at it as a blessing to play wherever I wanted."