I mentioned this when I talked about Brandon Weeden a few weeks ago: image does matter, whether that seems fair or not. And with that in mind, I would like to promote the mayoral candidacy of one Joseph Walter Haden III.
Joe Haden gets it. He does it all. He has won over various parts of the fan base in all sorts of different ways. The guy shows up in full uniform for Cavs games; he goes to the NBA draft lottery in an attempt to amp up the excitement; he takes random Cleveland girls to prom (maybe not random, but a high school girl who asked him to go to prom), and he just flat out supports all things Cleveland.
He just seems to grasp how to make a fan base like him. I follow him on Twitter, which has its ups and downs. But periodically he goes on sprees of answering fan questions. I’m not talking about answering a question here and there – I’m talking about taking an hour out of his day, time that could be spent doing literally anything (because a rich 23-year-old can do virtually anything he/she wants), to answer dozens of fan questions that were tweeted his way.
From answering what part of his game he thinks he needs to work on to which is his favorite car, he’ll answer close to 50 questions from typical, run-of-the-mill fans. He talks about the team, says all the right things, and works the crowd at a level that rivals Springsteen.
Oh, and he’s one of the best defensive backs in the NFL.
What truly separates him from any other “star” player in Cleveland over the last 15 years is that he blends being an elite player at his position with also being a fan favorite. Josh Cribbs is a close second in this one, but he went through a contract dispute and has been slightly less productive as of late; however, he pretty much laid the blueprint for how to hype up a fan base.
Furthermore, the two of them are great friends. But in his second year in the league, Haden separated himself from the overhwleming majority of defensive backs in the NFL. He’s a lockdown corner who can pretty much play man-to-man on every team’s No. 1 receiver, allowing the rest of the team to focus on themselves and less about helping him out.
Granted, that’s a tall task, and the life of a cornerback is such that it only takes one misstep to make it look like a bad game. But Haden has proven himself as a stud. He’s got all the F-sounds: fast, physical, and fun to watch. Even better, he’s a fan.
So it comes down to this: Joe Haden, if you do stick around with the Browns – and I think I speak for virtually everyone when I say “Please, for the love of all things holy, stay with Cleveland forever and be the city’s football hero” – run for mayor when you’re done. I’m thinking that right now you’ve got about 10% of the vote based on preexisting popularity.
That was a ridiculous statement, but the point is that Haden’s a popular player who is as popular as anyone can be in a sport where most players’ faces are obscured by masks.
Go Browns. And vote Haden.