WWhen Daniel Wilcox read the tweet that ESPN’s Adam Schefter sent to bring the news of NFL quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ death, he thought about how some view athletes as pure entertainers without taking the time to see them as human beings.
“When you’re in the NFL, you’re just a piece of meat. You’re a name, and you’re a number,” said Wilcox, who played tight end for the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens.
Schefter suffered setbacks after listing Haskins’ career setbacks while reporting on his death, which happened when the 24-year-old was hit by a truck in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“Dwayne Haskins, a standout in Ohio State before he struggled to grab Washington and Pittsburgh in the NFL, died this morning when he was hit by a car in South Florida, according to his agent Cedrick Saunders,” Schefter tweeted.
“The Haskins have a family and they’re in pain,” Wilcox says. “You point out a mistake in someone instead of embracing the fact that someone has just lost their life. There is a level of insensitivity. By being a journalist, sometimes you want to be the first to get it out and you think. not on the people you influence when you say things. “
The sports community spoke out against Schefter’s tweet, which was posted at a time when Haskins’ family, friends and former teammates were consuming the huge amount of his death. Schefter would eventually delete the tweet, but the damage had been done.
Athletes like Dez Bryant, Lamar Jackson and former Ohio State University quarterback Cardale Jones all battled Schefter on social media with Jones tweeting: “What about ‘Dwayne Haskins, son, husband, buckeye brother, friend, beloved teammate has passed away’ TF his career ups and downs has to do with the fact that he sadly lost his life.”
Haskins was with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time of his death. Ryan Clark, a former Steelers defensive back who now works with Schefter at ESPN, says the author has apologized to him directly for the tweet. But as of Monday morning, Schefter has not yet given a public apology.
This is not the first time Schefter seems to be more excited about the latest news than thinking about human humanity. When a grand jury decided not to charge Deshaun Watson with sexual assault earlier this year, Schefter’s tweet sounded like a PR statement to the quarterback: “This is why Deshaun Watson welcomed a police investigation from the beginning: He felt he knew that the truth would come out. ” Many pointed out that failure to prosecute is not a proclamation of innocence and that Watson is still under investigation by the NFL and in civil lawsuits over allegations of sexual misconduct made by 22 women. On that occasion, Schefter apologized for his “poorly worded” tweet.
Schefter was not the only person to appear as an NFL scout in the wake of Haskins’ death. Former Dallas Cowboys director Gil Brandt sounded like he was assessing a college player’s suitability for the NFL instead of talking about the death of a young man when he appeared on the NFL’s SiriusXM channel. “He was a guy who lived to be dead … Maybe he would not do stupid things if he stayed in school for a year [like] jogging on a highway, ”said Brandt, who subsequently apologized.
Jason Wright, former NFL running back and president of the Washington Commanders, shared his thoughts on Brandt’s statement by tweeting: “There is a consistent, banal and false narrative about athletes, especially the NFL and NBA, that great athletics can not come with great intellect and Character. It forces men and pushes to the idea that they are worth nothing but the arena. It has deep roots and it is harmful. ”
In addition to the mistakes that those in the media have made, there are notable instances where dehumanization has served as a practice in the NFL. For decades, the NFL used “race standardization,” which assumed black players had a lower baseline of cognitive abilities. In turn, it was more difficult for retired black players to receive compensation based on mental decline associated with their playing days. In response to a lawsuit from former NFL players, the NFL implemented a plan in March to eliminate racial bias in testing and payout.
“They do not want to pay for your health insurance when you finish,” Wilcox says. “They will not take care of your broken bones. They do not care about your torn ligaments. The operations you have while playing for them they do not care about. The only thing they care about is what they can do for to get you on the field to help them win. They want you to make them more money and continue to bring in billions of dollars to the organization. “
It was left to other athletes and those who knew and loved Haskins to step in and remind us that we did not lose a football player this weekend, we lost someone. Steelers linebacker TJ Watt remembered it Haskins “Always made people smile, and never took life for granted.” His head coach Mike Tomlin said Haskins “was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community” Even Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, perhaps the least likeable figure in the NFL, managed to give Haskins that humanity, others did not. could . “He was a young man with enormous potential who had an infectious personality. To say we are crushed is an understatement,” Snyder and his wife Tanya said in a statement.
But it was an athlete from another sport, New York Mets glutton Pete Alonso, who himself was nearly killed in a car accident earlier this year, who reminded us that we are all just as vulnerable as Haskins.
“It could easily have been me,” Alonso said after the Mets’ game against the Washington Nationals on Saturday. “Everyone above the earth should be grateful for another day. Life is fragile, but we should all count our blessings if we are on the right side of the dirt. It’s an emotional thing to go through something like that, and i feel so bad with not just [Haskins’] teammates, but also his family. ”
Alonso was right. Haskins was not just a quarterback. Like all of us, he was a human being.