If there’s one thing football fans are short of—besides proper decorum—it’s sympathy. And on April 25, 2019, for better or worse, promising Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins was picked 15th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In the year and change since, he’s been expected to develop within a corrosive environment that isn’t exactly conducive to productivity—to put it lightly.
As I’ve previously written here at The Root:
For those out the loop, Haskins has never had the opportunity to thrive. Outside of being banished to the armpit of the NFL universe, he’s played for three different coaches since being drafted, with each one installing their own offense. Then when Ron Rivera came aboard, guess who he brought with him? His old quarterback from his old team: Kyle Allen—a.k.a. the guy who just stole Haskins’ job.
Washington has also been mired in controversy after controversy after controversy since Haskins’ arrival, so it’s hard not to believe that all this chaos and perpetual bullshit hasn’t hampered his play. Because no matter how good of a player you are, where you play is not only crucial to your development but to your ability to excel on the field. Does anyone really think Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray or Patrick Mahomes would be playing at the same level in Washington? Of course not.
Compounding matters is the fact that Haskins isn’t exactly the most mature player in the league, as evidenced by the fact that he broke COVID-19 protocols in October by attempting to make reservations for a friend at a team-only hotel, then doubled down on his stupidity last week when pictures surfaced of him being maskless in a strip club—putting his entire team at risk of exposure to COVID-19. (Did I mention that his coach is currently fighting throat cancer and is especially susceptible to experiencing complications should he contract that shit?)
Needless to say, coming into Washington’s game on Sunday, the 23-year-old was on thin ice. He was stripped of his captaincy yet was still forced to play since Alex Smith was still out with an injury. But instead of responding to the adversity by ballin’ out and proving his mettle as an NFL quarterback in a game that could’ve allowed Washington to clinch a much-needed playoff berth, he stunk up the joint and got his ass benched in favor of a fourth-string quarterback.
Washington lost, their playoff chances are remote, if not minuscule, and Haskins had some explaining to do after his piss-poor, two-interception performance.
“Definitely the hardest week of my life,” he told reporters on Sunday. “I just want to bounce back and move forward and pray and get my life together.”
Wellllllllllllllllll, I don’t know how much prayer he’s been doing, but he’ll definitely have all the time in the world to get his life together after Washington announced on Monday that his services are no longer needed, effective immediately.
“This afternoon I met with Dwayne and informed him that we would be releasing him,” Coach Rivera wrote in a statement. “I told him that I believe it benefits both parties that we go our separate ways. We want to thank Dwayne for his contributions these last two seasons and wish him well moving forward.”
Getting rid of a first-round quarterback before he even finishes the second year of his contract isn’t unprecedented, but it sure as hell is a shocker. Even JaMarcus Russell, arguably the biggest bust in NFL history, played three seasons in Oakland. That should provide a bit of perspective as to how badly Haskins breached trust and avoided accountability in Washington.
And you already know Twitter had plenty to say about the matter:
So what’s next for Haskins? After taking that long, miserable walk of shame to the waiver wire, any team interested in picking him up will be responsible for the two remaining years on his rookie contract.
SPOILER WARNING: Nobody is touching that shit. But I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody scoops him for far less this offseason as a free agent. He unquestionably has his warts, but who’s to say he can’t eventually thrive in a less dysfunctional environment? For the right price—and I mean pennies on the dollar—I would be willing to roll those dice to find out.
“My time with the WFT has unfortunately come to an end,” Haskins tweeted on Monday from his now-private Twitter account. “I thank the team & fans for the opportunity to play for the team I grew up rooting for. I take full responsibility for not meeting the standards of an NFL QB & will become a better man & player because of this experience.”
It’s not exactly a secret that Black quarterbacks face an uphill battle in getting the same opportunities or treatment as their white counterparts throughout the league, but Haskins couldn’t have done any worse with the cards he was dealt. And with the next generation of Black quarterbacks waiting in the wings to make their mark on the league, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll somehow be penalized for Haskins’ shortcomings.