Today is Easter Sunday, but it also marks a somber day for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Exactly one year ago former Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins lost his life at the age of just 24. Entering his second full offseason with the team, he had hopes of competing for a return to the starting lineup as the organization marked a changeover at the quarterback position with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger.
The New Jersey-born Haskins was raised in the outskirts of Washington D.C. where he would spend most of his professional football career. He was drafted in the first round by the Washington Commanders in 2019, 15th overall, following a successful stint at Ohio State University.
He tragically lost his life three years later, exactly one year ago today, while down in Florida training with his new Steelers teammates, which was organized by the players themselves. He was struck by a vehicle on a highway while attempting to return to the airport at seven in the morning on April 9, 2022.
According to his wife, Haskins ran out of fuel in his rented vehicle and was attempting to retrieve some. Under the influence at the time, his decision-making put himself into a very precarious position that cost him his life.
But that’s not at all how those who knew him will remember him, even the Steelers teammates and coaches who only knew him relatively briefly. While he lived a far from perfect life, he was always described as a happy person who passed that happiness on to those around him.
Haskins was a star at Ohio State with a stellar sophomore season in 2018, throwing for 4831 yards with 50 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. Those numbers instantly vaulted him into first-round consideration and prompted him to declare for the draft at just 21 years old.
Having been drafted into the area in which he grew up, many believe that Haskins was not in the right professional environment in Washington to allow him to succeed. That included the difficulty of escaping the negative influences of his past life.
One player he knew well while in Pittsburgh was wide receiver Steven Sims, with whom he shared the field in Washington. Last year, he said of Haskins, “Dwayne was my brother. Every time Dwayne walked into the room, you always felt his positive energy, from laughing and joking, playing around, and just how he loved old-school music”.
“We reunited in Pittsburgh, and we always talked about our plans, how we were going to come back stronger than ever”, he added.
The Steelers as a team honored his memory throughout the 2022 season by wearing a no. 3 decal on the back of their helmets. He spent the entire 2021 season on their 53-man roster as the third quarterback and hoped to push for more the following year.