It takes years of practice, hard work, determination and luck to make it to the pros. Once you get there, smart football players know finding a mentor improves their status on and off the field. High performance athletes as well as mentor/mentees often “swap jerseys” as a sign of respect but you aren’t a real baller if your mentor doesn’t snag a photo of you for their socials. Then you have cornerback Joe Haden, who put his money where his heart is. Before starting with the Steelers in 2017, he bought jersey No. 21 from Robert Golden in order to pay homage to his inspiration, Deion Sanders. Haden sat down with the electric Fox College Football sideline reporter, Jenny Taft, at the DIRECTV Studio to talk about the importance of mentorship in the league.
It only makes sense Joe “Money” Haden, the cornerback with the most drip in the past decade, was mentored by the legend and flashiest cornerback of all time, Deion “Primetime” Sanders. It was after the NFL draft, Joe met and exchanged phone numbers with his hero which was the beginning of their personal relationship. Even though they paid their dues at rival schools Deion graciously took Joe under his wing. Sanders was a two time All American at Florida State University and dominated the ACC while Haden chomped down on the SEC as a Gator. Both impressive athletes also lettered in track and field. If you didn’t know, Haden was a highly recruited multi-sport athlete and could have easily played collegiate basketball. Even the demands of the NFL couldn’t stop Sanders from remaining a multi-hyphenate athlete and concurrently played Major League Baseball for nine years.
Off the field, both incredible players are proud fathers and husbands. Haden has two young sons while Sanders is the supportive father of five. Two of Sanders’ sons have even played football for their dad who is currently the Head Coach of the Jackson State Tigers. Haden has high hopes for his boys to become Gators like him. Being a strong dad comes naturally to Joe as he also continues the tradition of mentorship in the league.
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Haden talked to DIRECTV about how he supports former Steelers teammate and current super star, Eagles cornerback, Darius Slay. The two famously exchanged jerseys after the Browns vs. Lions game in 2013 to symbolize their multi-generational respect. Flash forward to this year where Slay, as a young veteran on the Eagles, has been voted by his teammates to be a captain. He even received an Overall Rating of 92 on Madden, the highest for any Eagle on the roster.
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Haden hopes the younger players take his advice to heart like “making sure they have the advisors. Making sure [they know] it’s ok to say no.” Tune in to the full interview with Joe Haden and Jenny Taft at the DIRECTV Studio on DIRECTV’s YouTube page to hear more of the advice Joe Haden passes down to his teammates like Deion Sanders once gave to him.
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