April 15, 2022 | SPORTS | By Charlie Rounaghi | Illustration by Sierra Romero

News travels in the form of 280-character tweets and athletes are seen for their contribution to our entertainment, instead of as human beings.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Dwayne Haskins was struck and killed by a dump truck on the morning of Saturday, April 9, while walking on a highway in South Florida. Originally drafted in the first round by the Washington Commanders, Haskins most recently played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was in South Florida for spring workouts with his teammates.

Notable NFL insider Adam Schefter insensitively broke the news of Haskins’ sudden and tragic death in a now deleted tweet, writing “Dwayne Haskins, a standout at Ohio State before struggling to catch on with Washington and Pittsburgh in the NFL, died this morning when he got hit by a car in South Florida, per his agent Cedrick Saunders. Haskins would have turned 25 years old on May 3.”

Schefter instantly received backlash from NFL players and fans, leading him to delete the original message and post a new tweet in which the mention of Haskins’ on-the-field struggles was removed.

Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones responded to Schefter on twitter, writing “How about ‘Dwayne Haskins, son, husband, buckeye brother, friend, beloved teammate has passed away’ … Let his family & friends grieve instead of throwing shade. Praying for the Haskins family!!”

Haskins was very successful in his career as quarterback at Ohio State from 2016 to 2018. He broke multiple passing records and ended his college career as a Heisman Trophy finalist, leading him to being one of the first three quarterbacks drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Sure, Dwayne Haskins’ introduction to professional football was not as many expected for a first-round pick, but that did not define who he was as a person. There were many highlights in Haskins’ 24-year life and discussing his on-the-field struggles while announcing his sudden death is unnecessary and wrong.

After his release from the Washington Commanders in December of 2020, Haskins was looking for a fresh start and a second chance. He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the third-string quarterback in January of 2021. Haskin’s impact in the Pittsburgh community was immediately felt, frequently volunteering his time at Steelers’ community outreach events.

After Haskins’ death, Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin stated “He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community. Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many.”

Dwayne had a very close relationship with his younger sister, Tamia. Haskins’ mother was proud that the two were role models to each other. In an interview with the Big Ten Network in 2018, Tamia said, “I’m very proud of my brother, and I think he’s accomplished a lot … Growing up, Dwayne has always been my best friend. Sometimes he was my only friend. It didn’t matter that I was his younger sister.”

Adam Schefter has since apologized for his original tweet on his podcast, saying “It was insensitive, it was a mistake, and I can assure you (it) is not my intention. I wish I could have that tweet back. The focus should have been on Dwayne, who he was as a person, a husband, a friend and so much more.”

Schefter, who recently had his contract extended by ESPN, has had issues in the past with insensitivity and awkwardness in his tweets. Although Schefter’s apology comes off as sincere, our need for breaking news can sometimes trump compassion and thoughtfulness.

Schefter’s tweet reflects our society’s notion that athletes, especially NFL players, are seen not as human beings but as a commodity being used for profit and entertainment.

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