Dwayne Haskins was shamefully degraded after his tragic death


NFL Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt has apologized for demeaning Dwayne Haskins in the immediate aftermath of his tragic death. But Brandt’s shameful words are out there, and can’t be taken back.

They embody all of the negative stereotypes and toxicity attached to pro football.

Haskins died Saturday morning after being struck by a dump truck on a highway in South Florida. Police say the Steelers’ quarterback was trying to cross on foot.

It is a chilling piece of news that reminds us of life’s fleeting nature. Haskins was just 24 years old, and now, he’s gone. ESPN’s Adam Schefter delivered the shocking news, but for some reason, felt the need to degrade Haskins’ NFL career.

In a now-deleted tweet, Schefter described Haskins a “standout at Ohio State before struggling to catch on with Washington and Pittsburgh.”

Brandt piled on in a SiriusXM radio interview, saying Haskins was a “guy living to be dead” and posthumously criticized him for leaving school early. He speculated that if Haskins stayed in college for another year, he “wouldn’t do silly things.”

Yes, because playing an extra year of college football for no pay offers protection against getting struck by a dump truck on a South Florida interstate. Everybody knows that.

Brandt says he “reacted carelessly and insensitively,” which doesn’t even scratch the surface, but at least acknowledges his ridiculous remarks. Schefter, meanwhile, just deleted his tweet. There’s been no accompanying public apology. (Schefter apologized later Monday.)

It is mystifying that Schefter’s original instinct when it came to reporting Haskins’ death — maybe the most sensitive story he’ll work on all year — was disparaging his NFL career. Perhaps Schefter is spending too much time as an “Insider,” and not enough time as an actual human being.

A couple of weeks ago, Schefter rightfully caught flak for tweeting out a glorified PR statement about Deshaun Watson when a grand jury decided not to indict him on sexual assault charges. “This is why Deshaun Watson, from the beginning, welcomed a police investigation: He felt he knew that the truth would come out,” Schefter wrote.

He apologized on that occasion.

There is a world beyond the gridiron, which apparently the 90-year-old Brandt fails to see. After spending 67 years around the game, he’s seemingly lost all perspective.

Fortunately, the same isn’t true of Haskins’ peers, who rallied to his defense. One of the more poignant remarks came from Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, who himself was nearly killed in a car accident earlier this year. “That could have easily been me,” he said.

It could’ve easily been any of us. Like most people, Haskins made mistakes in his professional life, and received an opportunity in Pittsburgh to get his football career back on track. Mike Tomlin called Haskins one of the Steelers’ “hardest workers,” and T.J. Watt remembered Haskins always smiled and “never took life for granted.”

In other words, they remembered Haskins as a person. There is life outside of the football field.

It’s astonishing that Schefter and Brandt forgot about that.