NFL: Haeg signing autographs, playing softball this week
Joe Haeg Position: Tackle Team: Indianapolis Colts Number: 73 Height: 6-6 Weight: 305 Age: 24 College: North Dakota State University High school: Brainerd Hometown: Lake Shore Joe Haeg hasn't forgotten where he comes from. The Brainerd High Schoo...
Team: Indianapolis Colts
College: North Dakota State University
High school: Brainerd
Hometown: Lake Shore
Joe Haeg hasn't forgotten where he comes from.
The Brainerd High School graduate and Indianapolis Colts starting offensive lineman is giving back to his community this week as he participates in two events in the lakes area.
Thursday, July 6, he will sign autographs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at RiverWood Bank on Highway 371 in Baxter. Anyone who donates to the Brainerd Warrior Football Association that day will have their donation matched by the bank.
"I want everyone to come out and say hi," the former North Dakota State University All-American said last week. "I will sign things and proceeds will go to the Brainerd Warrior Football Association and I'm excited about that. It's another opportunity to give back anything I can."
Friday, July 7, Haeg headlines a roster of Brainerd all-stars who will play an exhibition slow-pitch game against the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team at Stewart C. Mills Field in Brainerd.
Gates open at 6 p.m. Friday. Former Miss Brainerd and Miss Minnesota Savannah Cole will sing the national anthem at 7:25 p.m. "The Voice" semifinalist Kat Perkins will perform. There is no admission charge but donations will be accepted. There will be activities for kids and an autograph/picture session followed by fireworks.
"I haven't played softball in a while. It's going to be rough," Haeg said. "I'm not saying I'm not going to try-I'm going to try my butt off-but there are no guaranteed results.
"It should be a good time. I'll get to see a lot of people. Playing against the Wounded Warrior amputee team will be cool. I'm excited to meet those guys, just take in the whole night. It should be fun."
Haeg isn't sure what softball equipment he needs.
"I have football cleats but I don't know if that's going to work the best," he said. "we'll see how it works. I still need a glove, I don't know about that situation, but it will be fun. I'm excited to go out there and show them what I've got."
While in the area, Haeg sat down to discuss a few football-related topics:
Q: In 2016, you started 14 games at three different positions. How much did starting at both tackle spots at NDSU prepare you for the NFL?.
JH: "I think it was huge. Coming in the first couple months of (organized team activities) and minicamp as a rookie can be a whirlwind. A lot of other rookies came in with me-we have a great staff-and a lot of veterans were good to us. They helped us out through the whole process.
"As the season went along, I had to jump around to different spots. I think I'm that type of guy they that wanted to be coming in. Lots of times, as a rookie, you're not guaranteed any starting spot. Being able to be put into it and prove yourself, wherever that is, it was a great experience."
Q: The Colts' coaching staff always seems to be complimentary about your play. How would you assess the success of your first season?
JH: "I don't consider myself an amazing player. I try to keep it as low-key as I can. I did the best I could out there. I think I'm definitely one of those guys who can never improve enough."
Q: What do you think you need to improve on?
JH: "Becoming a more dominant player. Everything needs to be improved. I did some good things on film. I'm definitely my biggest critique, as you can tell. I think I've made a lot of good strides in the offseason. I'll finish out the rest of the offseason and go into training camp as strong as I can."
Q: What are the biggest adjustments, or the biggest challenges, you've faced going from college to the NFL?
JH: "The biggest thing is the speed of everyone. Everyone's so much stronger. Then I think the biggest part was being able to go out there and get that first 'Oh, I just blocked that guy, he's a starter in the NFL.' You can feel a little overwhelmed but when you finally do something good, that builds confidence as you go, and that was something I was able to do-like 'I just blocked (teammate) Robert Mathis, he's a Pro Bowler. That helps you out a little bit.
"You don't want to get a big ego, but you have to be confident out there. That's something you definitely have to build, especially that first year."
Q: How have demands on your time changed now that you're in the NFL?
JH: "Last year, switching around to different positions, I had to put a little bit of extra time in. On top of that, we are at the facility from maybe 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and when you go home it doesn't stop. You have to watch film, you have to be even more understanding of your opponent and whoever you're going against this week. It's a huge benefit for a young guy being able to understand those things.
"(Football) takes a lot of your time but it's something that's worth it. I love doing it. I don't feel like I'm working a job. I'm going out there, playing and having fun."
Q: On the eve of your second NFL season, what are your expectations?
JH: "I'm confident in myself this year. I think I've shown that to other players and the coaches. Wherever I end up starting-I'm ready to jump to center if I need to or back to left tackle. I think the coaches and my teammates understand I'm a guy wherever they need me to go, I will do it."
Q: The Colts finished 8-8 in 2016 and missed the playoffs. What's the outlook for 2017?
JH: "I think we've made a lot of improvement on defense. We'll still be pretty young. Before I got there, there was a huge turnover of players in the offensive line. Being able to come back with the same starters, being able to build off that, will be huge from our position standpoint. I think we have all the talent to do what we want to do. It comes down to improving and to keep working for it."
Q: During the offseason, you've participated in five OTAs and one mandatory minicamp. Other than football, what have you done in the offseason?
JH: " I took a week's vacation with a buddy from college to go to Iceland. That was cool. It's off the beaten path, not a traditional vacation spot. It was a great experience.
"And, I got a dog. I'm pretty excited about that. His name is Steve, he's about a 4- to 5-month-old German Shepherd. He's a handful right now but he's a good dog."
Q: Finally, you and Josh Archibald of the Pittsburgh Penguins are 2011 BHS graduates. Do the two of you keep in touch?
JH: "Actually I talked to him after he won a Stanley Cup game. He's had a heck of a year-wins the Stanley Cup, got married, has a kid on the way. He's the happiest guy I've ever talked to, I think.
"Now he's put a little pressure on me. Now I need to win a Super Bowl and match him up a little bit. He's a great guy. It's well deserved. He's definitely worked hard for it."