Dwayne Haskins’ Legacy Extends Beyond His Football Career

Dwayne Haskins’ smile was one of the first things that came to mind the day he died. There was something appealing about the way happiness spread across her face, filling her cheeks and lighting up her eyes. The smile was real. It was soft, inviting, sometimes almost playful.

And it showed the innocence of a young man struggling to find his way in the unforgiving, zero-sum world of professional football. It’s always sad when bright, talented people die in their early 20s, but Haskins’ death in the middle of a highway in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, seems especially cruel because it was such an abrupt and brutal end. of a life that was so promising and seemed to be heading in the right direction.

Haskins’ biography is filled with more chapters than that of almost anyone else just weeks away from turning 25. It’s a complicated and often confusing story, told vividly in numbers — both with his jaw-dropping touchdown totals at Ohio State and the disappointing stat line from his short stint in Washington. But his legacy isn’t a quarterback rating, and his memory is bigger than a football career. He was warm, he was gentle, and there always seemed to be hope that he was about to find his vast potential.

Dwayne Haskins’ death ‘just devastating’ for former teammates and coaches

Those who knew Haskins best — after he moved as a teenager from New Jersey to Montgomery County, where he attended Bullis School, and later to Ohio State — always described someone gifted with a mind. brilliant as well as the ability to kick a football as hard and as far as he wanted. One told the story of a throwing contest with several of the best quarterbacks of his age in which Haskins sprawled to the side of the practice field as each of the passers struggled to reach the intended target before finally getting up, picking up the ball and pinning the target with his first swell.

They said he learned fast. They said it was natural. They said he was special. And yet, it hadn’t worked in the NFL, and no one seemed to have a good reason as to why.

The simple explanation is that Haskins never should have gone to Washington with the 15th pick in 2019. It was too close to home; he needed to get away from where he grew up. To complicate matters, several people familiar with the team’s pre-draft deliberations said owner Daniel Snyder forced team executives to pick Haskins over objections from coaches and then-president Bruce. Allen. This meant Haskins had to start his career playing for a coaching staff that didn’t want him.

The best young quarterbacks are well supported by their teams, but the dysfunction in Washington, with two coaching changes in two years, has not helped him much. Yet with Haskins there was also something else, something deeper, something that everyone struggled to put into words that led to his exit at the end of a 2020 season that would be the one in which he established himself as a holder.

While Haskins didn’t play well in Washington, he was anything but a bad person. He has not committed any crime. He was never rude. He seemed to be trying. Sometimes it seemed like he was trying too hard. After his death was announced, some pointed to the fact that he was training with his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates in Florida as evidence that he was committed to football, but he had always worked with his teammates during the off season. He worked hard with the coaches. Those familiar with his training habits away from NFL facilities say he studied the games.

His biggest problem seemed to be that he was still trying to figure out who he was, a 21 and 22 year old kid who was no longer sure of himself and didn’t always know how to act. A friend described him as “a goofy prep school kid” who didn’t have the same background as most of his teammates. He worked hard to fit in. It struck many who knew him that he was playing the part of what an NFL quarterback should be rather than just doing it naturally. The coaches who got angry with him the most were obsessing over who he wasn’t rather than trying to figure out who he might one day become.

Former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins dies at 24

Haskins certainly made his mistakes in the NFL. He continued to blow chances by breaking team rules after inviting family members to the team hotel amid the coronavirus pandemic and partying after a game in violation of team protocols. league pandemic. At the end of his time in Washington, he looked lost, playing worse than when he started.

But Haskins’ footballing representation has never matched that of the man. The kindness portrayed in the tributes about him was genuine. He did interviews even when he didn’t have time to do them. When people asked him things, he tried to help. Friends described it as a “pleasure”. He seemed to be trying to make everyone happy, which is hard to do when you’re young, famous, and rich and still learning who you are.

His death is as baffling as his life as a footballer. How could he cross a highway at 6:30? He was smart and talented, and when he smiled, he also made others around him happy. He had a future. He had hope. The last year spent with the Steelers was supposed to be a payback. He made a fresh start.

Instead, there will be a funeral, a coffin, a grave with a headstone marking a brilliant life ended too soon. It does not mean anything. He was still at the beginning, a kid becoming a man. And in the hours since Dwayne Haskins died at age 24, it was the saddest thing of all.

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