Q&A: Clark Haggans

Clark Haggans has been the good cop to Joey Porter's bad cop ever since their days at Colorado State. But with the team evolving, how will Haggans's role change? And what does he see on the horizon for the Steelers?

Clark Haggans, outside linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers

It looked you got beat for a touchdown by the seventh-round pick.

What do you mean?

Dallas Baker beat No. 53 for a touchdown out there in practice.

Slick (Ricardo Colclough) wore 53 today. I wore 21. Fridays we always swap numbers. That was him, man. Don't print that. That was him. Don't kill my street cred.

Congratulations on your baby. Was that your first?

My second. Thank you. Thank you. But if you thought I was playing cornerback, you probably thought Deshea was playing nose tackle and Hamp was playing cornerback.

No, that's what tipped me off to the whole thing, seeing Casey using that No. 26 jersey as a male support garment.

I thought Deshea wearing 98 was the most noticeable thing. I said, ‘Damn, Hamp lost some weight.' But, yeah, Hamp had a halter top on today.

Anyway, you're one of the true leaders right now. How are things going to go without Joey Porter?

We've got to keep trucking. If someone goes, someone's got to step up. It's kind of like that. Everyone's got to take a step forward. That's what Tomlin was saying, put one foot forward day after day. That's the thing with Joey. He's gone off to Miami. We drafted some first and second-round linebackers. Me, Potsie, Foote and Silverback got to step it up. I know (linebacker coach Keith Butler) Butts and LeBeau have got a lot of expectations for us. We've got to handle it.

How big of a personal blow to you was the loss of Joey?

It's strange to me. Personally, it's just that I ain't never been on a team without him. And this is the first time. High school football doesn't count, but counting college and here, we played together about 10, 11 years. So this is weird. In the back of my head I can always hear Joey. He'd be talking or laughing right now. We'd be hearing him in the background, kind of like muzak at the doctor's office.

How do you expect it to play out, especially since you're playing Miami this year?

Oh, he's ready for us. I already talked to him. He said he's going to be ready.

Is it going to be a big week for the verbal back-and-forth?

I don't know about that, but I know he's fired up for that. That's already circled – signed, sealed, delivered – on his calendar.

For how outspoken he can be, are you surprised he hasn't made any disparaging remarks about the Steelers?

No, he never wanted to leave. He misses us. I just saw him two days ago. I talk to him frequently and he always says, ‘How's everybody doing?' He misses all the guys here. He misses the locker room. I think after all the business is said and done, there's a sentimental atmosphere, a team camaraderie, that he misses. It's different for him; it's different for us. I know he misses us and we miss him, but that's football. That's the way it works.

How's your feel for things without Cowher and Joey?

It's cool. It's still cool. Everything's cool. Coach Tomlin's done a great job. This is my first time being back. I've been gone most of the offseason with family issues. Just being around, just soaking it up, he expects a lot from the team. He doesn't expect us to miss a beat. It's not one of those things where he's just trying to feel us out through the season. I mean, we have set goals and everything. Everybody's coaching and he has set goals and that's to win the championship.

Has he gained the respect of the team?

Oh, he's picked it up. He's holding everybody accountable and in return he's being held accountable as well. And I know his whole approach is he'll give respect but he demands it himself.

I also wanted to ask you about your contract. We know where Alan stands. I talked to Troy and he's letting his agent handle things. How are you handling the last year of your contract?

Same thing as Troy. The bottom line is the contract's a contract and it hasn't expired yet. Right now it's one of those things where I've just got to play football next season. One way or another I've got to show up and I've got to show up in a big way -- considering the coach's expectations of me – come the opener in Cleveland. My contract is way in the future. I've got to play football right now.

It seems Alan has abdicated some leadership responsibility. Are you – especially with Joey gone -- taking more on?

The thing is, Joey was a vocal leader. I would say I lead more by example. And I'm a fun-loving guy. I like to joke around, so I won't sit there and try to boss people around and say, ‘Come on, rally up.' Everyone here knows what kind of guy I am. You know, I rally up, I get mad as hell, too, and I want to win by any means necessary, but everybody's a leader in their own way. All throughout this process with this whole transition away from Cowher and to Coach Tomlin, my role will get more defined as time goes on.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n \r\nClark Haggans, outside linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers\r\n \r\n

It looked you got beat for a touchdown by the seventh-round pick.

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWhat do you mean? \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Dallas Baker beat No. 53 for a touchdown out there in practice.

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nSlick (Ricardo Colclough) wore 53 today. I wore 21. Fridays we always swap numbers. That was him, man. Don't print that. That was him. Don't kill my street cred. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Congratulations on your baby. Was that your first?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nMy second. Thank you. Thank you. But if you thought I was playing cornerback, you probably thought Deshea was playing nose tackle and Hamp was playing cornerback. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

No, that's what tipped me off to the whole thing, seeing Casey using that No. 26 jersey as a male support garment.

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nI thought Deshea wearing 98 was the most noticeable thing. I said, ‘Damn, Hamp lost some weight.' But, yeah, Hamp had a halter top on today. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Anyway, you're one of the true leaders right now. How are things going to go without Joey Porter?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWe've got to keep trucking. If someone goes, someone's got to step up. It's kind of like that. Everyone's got to take a step forward. That's what Tomlin was saying, put one foot forward day after day. That's the thing with Joey. He's gone off to Miami. We drafted some first and second-round linebackers. Me, Potsie, Foote and Silverback got to step it up. I know (linebacker coach Keith Butler) Butts and LeBeau have got a lot of expectations for us. We've got to handle it. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

How big of a personal blow to you was the loss of Joey?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nIt's strange to me. Personally, it's just that I ain't never been on a team without him. And this is the first time. High school football doesn't count, but counting college and here, we played together about 10, 11 years. So this is weird. In the back of my head I can always hear Joey. He'd be talking or laughing right now. We'd be hearing him in the background, kind of like muzak at the doctor's office. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

How do you expect it to play out, especially since you're playing Miami this year?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nOh, he's ready for us. I already talked to him. He said he's going to be ready. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Is it going to be a big week for the verbal back-and-forth?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nI don't know about that, but I know he's fired up for that. That's already circled – signed, sealed, delivered – on his calendar. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

For how outspoken he can be, are you surprised he hasn't made any disparaging remarks about the Steelers?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nNo, he never wanted to leave. He misses us. I just saw him two days ago. I talk to him frequently and he always says, ‘How's everybody doing?' He misses all the guys here. He misses the locker room. I think after all the business is said and done, there's a sentimental atmosphere, a team camaraderie, that he misses. It's different for him; it's different for us. I know he misses us and we miss him, but that's football. That's the way it works. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

How's your feel for things without Cowher and Joey?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nIt's cool. It's still cool. Everything's cool. Coach Tomlin's done a great job. This is my first time being back. I've been gone most of the offseason with family issues. Just being around, just soaking it up, he expects a lot from the team. He doesn't expect us to miss a beat. It's not one of those things where he's just trying to feel us out through the season. I mean, we have set goals and everything. Everybody's coaching and he has set goals and that's to win the championship. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Has he gained the respect of the team?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nOh, he's picked it up. He's holding everybody accountable and in return he's being held accountable as well. And I know his whole approach is he'll give respect but he demands it himself. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

I also wanted to ask you about your contract. We know where Alan stands. I talked to Troy and he's letting his agent handle things. How are you handling the last year of your contract?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nSame thing as Troy. The bottom line is the contract's a contract and it hasn't expired yet. Right now it's one of those things where I've just got to play football next season. One way or another I've got to show up and I've got to show up in a big way -- considering the coach's expectations of me – come the opener in Cleveland. My contract is way in the future. I've got to play football right now. \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

It seems Alan has abdicated some leadership responsibility. Are you – especially with Joey gone -- taking more on?

\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe thing is, Joey was a vocal leader. I would say I lead more by example. And I'm a fun-loving guy. I like to joke around, so I won't sit there and try to boss people around and say, ‘Come on, rally up.' Everyone here knows what kind of guy I am. You know, I rally up, I get mad as hell, too, and I want to win by any means necessary, but everybody's a leader in their own way. 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