Late last week former Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden used his Instagram account to show off his new ink — a tattoo of himself wearing a uniform that’s part-Steelers and part-Browns.
While the image was met with mostly positive reaction from those who follow Haden on Instagram, there were also hints of how harshly it would be received by NFL Twitter, with IG user ras_fluff24 writing:
“Yo Joe shouldn’t the 2 on the jersey be white!?” – a reference to how the uniform has precious little in the way of Steelers colors.
Browns Reporter Calls Joe Haden’s Tattoo ‘Pretty Sick’
At any rate, the online conversation really didn’t take off until Brad Stainbrook, who covers the Browns for 247 Sports, tweeted out a picture of the tat, which he described as being “pretty sick.”
One Clevelander took issue with that characterization, calling the tattoo a “f***ing abomination.”
Twitter user Jim Maxwell summed up the consensus opinion about the artwork with this video clip:
Browns supporter Saiyan Dawg expressed much the same sentiment:
“Steelers and Browns never go good together,” chimed in TruBrownie.
Some questioned the hubris it takes to get a “portrait tattoo of yourself,” and another Twitter user called it the “dumbest/ugliest tattoo I have ever seen.”
There was also a lot of criticism of specific elements of the tattoo, especially what one observer described as the “triangular helmet.”
“Is your football helmet inside a deformed space helmet?” queried another.
Yet another Twitter user quipped about former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher having the same tattoo, a reference to the fact that Cowher was a Browns player and coach before getting hired to coach the Steelers in 1992.
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Joe Haden Remains a Free Agent
Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Haden remains an unrestricted free agent, with the Steelers having made no effort to re-sign him after his contract expired earlier this year.
In the months since, Haden has hinted at a return to the Browns, having played the first seven seasons of his NFL career in Cleveland after the organization selected him No. 7 overall in the 2010 draft.
If it turns out that this is the end of his 12-year career, the three-time Pro Bowler will have appeared in 158 career games with the two AFC North rivals. He has been credited with 615 tackles, plus 29 interceptions, 155 passes defensed and three sacks, according to Pro Football Reference.
And while a certain segment of both fan bases would like to see Haden back in a Steelers (or Browns) uniform, not everyone is in agreement.
One Browns fan wrote: “Change helmet to all orange, or don’t come back.”
Yet the Steelers may find that replacing Joe Haden is easier said than done. As I pointed out in January, the Steelers were 20-6-1 in games in which Haden was in the lineup in 2020-21, but just 1-7 when he was out due to illness or injury.
In essence, the Steelers have elected to replace Haden with former Buffalo Bills cornerback Levi Wallace, who signed a two-year, $8 million contract with Pittsburgh after ostensibly getting a sign from God. Wallace figures to start opposite Ahkello Witherspoon, who was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks in September 2021.
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