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.
Here is @Gil_Brandt on NFL radio when asked about Dwayne Haskins.
“He was a guy that was living to be dead.”
“It was always something” with Haskins
“Maybe it he stayed in school a year he wouldn’t do silly things [like] jogging on a highway.” pic.twitter.com/cuZZdqYOck
— Pete Damilatis (@PeteDamilatis) April 9, 2022
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk did shed some light on Brandt’s current state of mind.
Gil Brandt's comments about Dwayne Haskins were obviously unacceptable. I would add that Gil should not be doing live radio interviews anymore. He is 90 years old and in ailing health and there are some people around him who have put their own interests ahead of his.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) April 9, 2022
Brandt, like Schefter, is coming under heavy criticism.
This is just tasteless. https://t.co/5PVAzqZ1Es
— James Starks II (@_JamesStarks) April 9, 2022
I'm not always for cancelling people but @Gil_Brandt should never be allowed to speak on NFL Radio again with these outragous and stupid comments. I don't think the 90 year old can even think straight or knows what he is saying anymore https://t.co/zyQrPHnnvl
— Jay (@jaynftbeliever) April 9, 2022
This is hard to listen to. Say what you will about Dwayne Haskins as an NFL player, this are really terrible comments from someone who clearly didn’t know the person. https://t.co/Q451IIOVH5
— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) April 9, 2022
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.
This is a day of great mourning. Rayfield Wright was like a son to me. I still can’t believe he is gone. A man of great faith, there is no doubt he has entered through the gates of Heaven. May Di and his family have peace knowing this. Love you, Rayfield. Rest In God’s Peace. pic.twitter.com/y7PgQQYWy5
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) April 8, 2022
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.
This morning while learning of Dwayne Haskins’ passing, I reacted carelessly and insensitively on a radio interview. I want to apologize to Mr. Haskins’ family and anyone who heard my poor choice of words. I truly apologize. My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time.
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) April 9, 2022