Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden "had every reason to settle into his late 20s as an injury-riddled cornerback whose shutdown days were fading."
But according to ESPN, he's having a resurgent season with the help of a special personal trainer.
Haden hated the sound of that so much that he sought a secret weapon back in April: a 35-year-old sports performance specialist who now lives down the street from him and treats him almost every day.
Now he is preparing for his first playoff appearance, which might just catalyze a Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl run and shed durability concerns for good.
"Is he injury-prone? Is he getting old?" Haden said. "I'm feeling young and vibrant."
Haden credits his work with Alex Skacel of "rehab/perform/recover" for helping him reimagine his body. The two met after Haden, then a Cleveland Brown, had undergone surgery with Dr. William Meyers -- known as the league's groin guru -- in the Philadelphia area. Skacel worked for Meyers but hoped to start his own practice, so Haden said, "You know what, bro? Let's try this."
Skacel, 35, went to work with a full-body study of Haden, utilizing slow-motion videos with Dartfish software, neurological/balance exercises and muscle activation. He studied Haden's posture and noticed that his right knee dipped in a single-leg squat position due to weak outer hips. Four months later, the posture was upright, and the hip and knee were centered, leading to more fluid movement on the field.
The Steelers will take it. Haden is having a resurgent season as the team's top matchup corner.