Virgen: The night's true stars

Virgen's View

April 05, 2014|By Steve Virgen
  • Joe Haden, left, arrives at the charity screening of 'Draft Day' at Big Newport Theater in Newport Beach on Thursday.
Joe Haden, left, arrives at the charity screening of 'Draft… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

At the "Draft Day" special movie screening at Big Newport Thursday night, the film's stars Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner did not show.

But that was OK, there were plenty of other stars, and some who did not have a role in the movie. You could call them heroes, for sure. They would be Cleveland Browns defensive back Joe Haden and his younger brother, Jacob Haden.

Joe Haden, a Pro Bowler in 2013, attended the event to support the Special Olympics. Jacob, 20, grew up with as a special-needs child and does not have the ability to communicate verbally. He competes in Special Olympics, the primary charity for Thursday night's event, as the Foundation for the Undefeated put together the "Draft Day," screening. Foundation for the Undefeated, the nonprofit based in Newport Beach, is the new home of Irrevelant Week.

Joe Haden smiles when he talks about his brother. He says Jacob competes in basketball, track and bocci.


Joe Haden is the oldest of five Haden boys, four of which played NCAA Division I football.

"At every game he was our biggest cheerleader," Joe Haden said of Jacob. "He's always happy, always having a good time. We go and support him at his Special Olympic games. He's wearing his gold medals. All my [friends] love him."

Joe Haden is entering his fifth season with the Browns, who have a record of 18-46 in Haden's four seasons. There have been a lot of rough days for Joe Haden, but he has always had a different perspective because of his experiences from growing up with Jacob.

"It makes me look in the mirror," Joe Haden said. "If I'm having a bad day, my little brother Jacob is waking up smiling, just running around having a ball. I'm like, seriously, what am I really worried about right now?"

Joe Haden said he attended the event because he wanted to help in any way he could.

On the football field, Joe Haden is also a star. Fantasy football geeks like me know better not to start their primary receiver when they are matched up against him.

I asked him who he thinks is the best defensive back in the league. It's easy to see, he has plenty of confidence.

"I'd say myself," Joe Haden said. "I like me."

He also said he has respect for the Patriots' Darrelle Revis, the Cardinals' Patrick Peterson, the Dolphins' Brent Grimes, and "of course," Richard Sherman of the Seahawks.

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