Remembering Dwayne Haskins because he played sports misses the biggest point – OutKick

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When athletes die, we usually remember them as athletes and quickly move on. We think of their great skills, or their exploits, or the moments they delivered and which remain etched in our memory.

But when the last moment on this Earth has come for our sports heroes and we only reflect on their fleeting skills or accomplishments, we are doing ourselves – and, more importantly, them – a disservice.

Because in doing that, we shifted priorities and dehumanized these men and women, as if they were property rather than people.

This happens in all sports.

Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant.

All Pro Linebacker Derrick Thomas.

Yankees catcher Thurman Munson.

Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente.

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

And now the NFL and former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

We remember them for the run they won or the touchdowns they threw or the sacks and 3,000 hits they had. We connect these people to their exploits and that’s it.

We do not consider personality, character and influence. In other words, we don’t remember them for the people they were.

It’s happening with Haskins now. He was just 24 when he died over the weekend after being hit by a dump truck while crossing a four-lane freeway in Fort Lauderdale.

Tragic.

Terrible.

But not because we lost a quarterback with potential. Or a hero from past games.

It’s sad because if you dig even a little into Dwayne Haskins, you understand that the planet has lost a bright light.

The first time many of us saw Haskins shine was May 17, 2008, when an 11-year-old Haskins first walked onto the Ohio State campus and immediately set his fate.

“That’s awesome,” he says through a broad smile on a video that went viral years ago and again this weekend. “I go to college here.”

Haskins’ energy, enthusiasm and embrace of big possibilities is evident in this video shot so long ago. And it gives a glimpse of who he already was.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day said, “He had a giant heart, an old soul and an infectious smile.”

When Haskins became the student and Ohio State player he predicted, he had to compete. And he competed with future Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow.

Haskins defeated Burrow and Tate Martell in an uphill battle to become Ohio State’s starter in 2018. Burrow, unhappy with the outcome, was transferred to Louisiana State.

Fast forward two years and Burrow, now the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, suffered a season-ending knee injury against Washington, the team that drafted Haskins in 2019.

A handful of Burrow’s former Ohio State teammates crowded around the cart that was about to carry the injured Bengals quarterback off the field for the last time this season.

Receiver Terry McLaurin came to Burrow.

Defensive end Chase Young came on Burrow.

And Dwayne Haskins, Burrow’s competitor from years before, was the first one there.

“He always wanted everyone around him to succeed” said Bullis High (MD) football coach Pat Cilento.

You should know that Haskins set 28 school records at Ohio State. His 50 touchdown passes in 2018, breaking the old record of 35, transformed the program into one known for outstanding quarterback play.

But it wasn’t those feats that made Haskins special. It was not the most important thing to remember.

It is:

“Dwayne was a young man of great intelligence who cared deeply about his loved ones and the world,” Washington Commanders team president Jason Wright said.

Now retired Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a look at Haskins, the person. They interacted as teammates in 2021, which obviously wasn’t a year Haskins wanted to repeat as he didn’t throw a pass for the Steelers.

But this was not the picture he painted for Roethlisberger:

“He came to work every day with a smile on his face and energy and love in his heart,” Roethlisberger wrote. “His smile and zeal for life will be missed!”

“He’s one of the greatest QBs in Ohio State history, but an even better son, teammate and friend,” former coach Urban Meyer said.

A makeshift memorial began to take shape at one of the Ohio Stadium entrance gates over the weekend.

A lone violinist — Ohio State student Adam Whitman, a member of the Ohio State University Marching Band — performed “Carmen Ohio” in front of the memorial this weekend.

Here is what we must hope it commemorated:

“Dwayne had such a positive, energetic outlook on life,” Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said. “[He] always treated people with genuine kindness.

Remember Dwayne Haskins for that.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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