Tragedy struck on Saturday when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins passed away after being hit by a dump truck in Florida. He was 24.

The tragedy is immense. And at a time like this, bringing up his shortcomings as a football player is out of line. ESPN’s Adam Schefter did that in a (since deleted) tweet reporting the news. He’s not alone.

When being interviewed on NFL radio, Gil Brandt of the NFL Network detailed Haskins’ maturity issues. At their absolute best, his comments were shockingly insensitive given the circumstances.

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk did shed some light on Brandt’s current state of mind.

Brandt, like Schefter, is coming under heavy criticism.

Normally when an athlete dies young, there’s a tendency to talk about how good or impactful he or she was in his or her given sport. If anything, people default to overrating the deceased’s athletic achievements. It’s not that different outside of sports. When a person goes — especially at such a young age — the natural human tendency is to remember that person’s good qualities and ignore the human imperfections.

And it’s not as though Brandt doesn’t know how to do this. One day before Haskins’ death, Brandt tweeted this about Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright.

On occasion, people were bad enough in life that their flaws must be immediately mentioned upon their deaths. But Haskins did not qualify.

Furthermore, we can’t overlook the last thing that Brandt said. We don’t know why Haskins was on the freeway. ESPN’s initial report cited Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson Lt. Indiana Miranda saying that. But we also don’t know if the driver who hit him had been drinking. That may end up being reported. But none of the initial reports have indicated that alcohol was a factor at all. Brandt including that is highly irresponsible at this point.

One thing Brandt said that was not remotely controversial, was “It’s a tragic thing. Anytime anyone dies it’s tragic, especially when you’re 24 years old and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”

In light of the tragic news, that should have been the sole focus of his commentary.

UPDATE: Brandt has issued an apology for his interview.

[Pete Damilatis]

About Michael Dixon

Michael has a background in sports writing both online (Bleacher Report, Sportsnaut, Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks) and in print (Sedona Red Rock News, Brentwood Press). Sports have been a lifeline passion for Michael and he continues to enjoy writing and talking about them.