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A Letter From the Editor: Lessons learned from the untimely death of Dwayne Haskins

We all can learn something from the sudden, and tragic death of Dwayne Haskins.

NFL: DEC 26 Steelers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Saturday I was sitting at the computer when suddenly the “Breaking News” channel of our BTSC Slack started to buzz. I click on the tab, and can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Dwayne Haskins is dead.

I had just gotten done writing the article about Mitchell Trubisky hosting the Steelers for workouts with quarterbacks and pass catchers in Florida, and listing Haskins’ name in the article.

How in the world can this guy, a 24-year old young man about to turn 25 in just a few weeks, be dead?!

In this business, you have work to do when news hits. As horrible as it may seem, someone has to cover the news for the Steelers’ global fan base, and that’s exactly what I did. After writing the initial news story I started diving into Twitter and reading the numerous tweets of teammates saddened and stunned by the news.

Throughout it all, I couldn’t help but feel for the players who worked out in Florida this past weekend. Then I saw this tweet get shared by former Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster on Twitter. This was video taken from Haskins’ Instagram account having fun with Najee Harris in Florida.

When they filmed this video, as corny as it sounds, neither of these young men ever thought about fatality. Neither even considered this could be the last time they saw, or spoke, to one another again.

When I think of this situation, I think of a situation I was in roughly seven years ago with one of my best friends Chris. Chris, who had been diagnosed with ALS, and I had a tradition of watching at least one round of the Masters golf tournament together every year.

This tradition started when Chris and his first wife were separated. He was all alone at the time, this long before his diagnosis, and I asked him if he wanted to go on a hike with my wife, son and me. He said sure, and afterwards, knowing he likely didn’t have dinner plans, I asked if he wanted to come over and watch the Masters and eat some pizza.

It was that year the tradition was born, and lasted until he died. In fact, the last time I saw my friend was on a Saturday of the Masters. I had gone over to watch the tournament with Chris, and with the tournament over my family and I were set to leave. I walked to his bedside, Chris a prisoner in his own body at this point, and told him we were leaving. I asked if he needed anything before I left, and he said, “No, I’m good.”

I told him I’d talk to him later, and he responded, “I’ll see you later.”

I never saw him later. We received confirmation of Chris’ death at the end of Sunday.

What these two situations have in common is the simple fact you never truly know when you’ll see your loved ones again. You never know what might happen, even if it is something you feel is relatively meaningless. A trip to the grocery store down the street could be the last time you get tell your loved ones you love them.

We can choose to learn from situations like this, and never take a moment for granted. You don’t have to know Haskins personally, or have a friend who passes from ALS to learn these lessons.

I’ll choose to learn from these events, and hopefully you will too.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)