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There are times when football takes a back seat

Trying to navigate a difficult time for Steelers’ Nation

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Saturday was a hard day for Steelers’ Nation.

If you’re like me, you probably never got a chance to meet or speak to Dwayne Haskins. Despite attending several games this season, I never saw him on the field in a Steelers uniform. All I know is that he was a part of the greatest franchise in professional sports, and now he’s gone from this earth far too soon.

I’m not sure exactly how things were going to fall with the Steelers quarterbacks this coming season, but I was looking forward to seeing what all of them brought to the table. Two of the three quarterbacks on the roster were former first-round picks looking to make their names with a different franchise. But none of that matters right now.

Like many of us, I’m not sure how to react to the tragic death of Dwayne Haskins. Talking about depth charts, the salary cap, and things of that nature simply doesn’t seem important in the grand scheme of things. The business of the NFL continues to churn on and the Steelers will prepare for the 2022 NFL draft, but at what point does it seem appropriate to get back to “business as usual” in regards with Steelers?

This issue is a question that has been front and center in my life over the last couple of months. On February 2, 2022 my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly less than three weeks before his 77th birthday. It wasn’t that he was in bad health, but being a former coal miner he had a number of ailments he dealt with for decades. Even at his age, my wife was not prepared to have no time left on this earth with her father. It’s been very hard.

Doing all that I can to be a supportive husband, I don’t always know what’s best to help my wife through this tough time. The best thing I can do is be there to listen when she wants to talk things through, and be there with my shoulder when she needs a good cry. I don’t know how long it will take my wife to get back to “business as usual” from the loss of her father, and I’m expecting her to never be the same as she was before he died. Sometimes we remember him and laugh, and sometimes we remember him and cry. The biggest thing is to make sure we continue to remember him.

As I continue to be there for my wife as she grieves, I think about Dwayne Haskins’ family, friends, and teammates. I think about those who gathered the day before to work out and get to know new members of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think about those players who saw Haskins just hours before he was gone. I think about if they’re struggling to remember the last words they said to him just like my wife struggles to remember the last word she’s heard from her father. I know how hard it is, and it breaks my heart.

What Steelers’ Nation needs to remember is that it’s not going to be the same process for everyone. There will be fans who are chomping at the bit to get back to discussing the draft, the upcoming season, and things of that nature. There will be others who are not ready. There will be some, although they didn’t personally know Dwayne Haskins, who it will take more time. And all of these situations are okay. We just need to remember, as fans, that different people will be ready at different times.

This will also be true of Haskins teammates. There is no timeline when it comes to the grieving process. Yes, players will need to get back to work and prepare themselves for the upcoming season, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy.

Here at Behind The Steel Curtain, this is uncharted territory for us. They were similar situations, such as the loss of Tunch Ilkin in 2021 or the tragic death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake during training camp of 2019, but it’s not exactly the same. What we need to realize is the need to be understanding of how everyone reacts to the situation. For those will be ready to move on, it’s understandable. For those who are not, that is understandable as well. We simply need to be understanding of different people being at different places.

As some may have noticed, we did not run a Saturday night open thread this week. It didn’t seem appropriate to be discussing the upcoming draft, free agency, and things such as this on such a tragic day. On Sunday, we will still be running some content, but not to the same degree as we would typically have things. The daily and weekly pieces that we would normally have on a Sunday will most likely still be there, but there may not be much more than that.

On Monday, things will likely get back closer to normal in regards to the website. It’s not that we are moving on from the issue, but for those who may need something else to focus on we will do our best to provide the outlet. And for those of you who may be reading this now but are not ready to get back into the ins and outs of the NFL offseason, it is totally understandable. Will be here whenever you are ready.

To close things out, I’ll say what many have been saying on social media since the tragic news broke on Saturday morning. Hug your loved ones. Don’t take time for granted. We never really know how much we have left on this earth, so we better appreciate those we love while we can.