Three weeks ago, after coming in for an injured Alex Smith in a 23-15 win over San Francisco, Dan Snyder’s quarterback Dwayne Haskins declared his benching earlier in the season was the worst time ever in his young life.
“This is probably the biggest amount of adversity that I’ve faced since coming into this world,” Haskins said, moved to tears after coming in to clean up for Smith. “I’ve leaned on a lot of people, a lot of mentors, family, close ones.”
Then came last week — his COVID-19 calamity and his Carolina disaster in a 20-13 loss Sunday — and then this became the biggest adversity of his life.
“It was definitely the hardest week of my life,” Haskins told reporters after he was tracked down at home following his escape from post-game media duties. “I’m just going to bounce back and move forward, pray and get my life together.”
Then Monday said, “Hold my beer.”
Less than 24 hours after another chapter of the Hard Life and Times of Dwayne Haskins was written, a new one surfaced Monday when the Washington Football team cut the owner’s quarterback — their No. 1 pick in 2019, the 15th selection in the first round.
I guess this would qualify as part of the smear campaign against Dan Snyder.
You think Haskins has had it rough? What about Louis Riddick? The ESPN football analyst had staked his reputation on the 23-year-old quarterback.
“I expect Dwayne Haskins to have an absolutely fantastic, monstrous year, provided everything else around him stays intact, because he’s earned it, he’s worked for it this offseason,” Riddick told NFL Live in July.
“I think Dwayne has taken the perfect approach this offseason,” Riddick said. “If you look at his social media, he basically chronicled his entire offseason as far as how hard he’s been working, how much weight he has shed. He looks absolutely fantastic.”
All it took to convince Riddick was a Weight Watchers program.
“I couldn’t be more disappointed to be perfectly honest with you,” Riddick said last week on ESPN’s Get Up. “This is a guy who I’ve had a lot of hope for, I’ve put a lot of support behind, because I do think he is a wonderful talent as far as playing quarterback is concerned. But something is not right as far as the choices that he’s making, the attention to detail that he is administering in his career and how this all meshing together down there.”
If you paying attention, though, beyond the film study, how could you not see the collision course this guy was on — from the Haskins & Haskins draft party to the “Kingdom of Pride” clothing line, to the request for Joe Theismann’s No. 7 jersey to the Instagram posts celebrating workouts? All while Haskins had not accomplished anything, and all while very aware of the protections that come with being the owner’s quarterback.
Imagine how Haskins would have been if he’d actually had some success?
Riddick and other Haskins cheerleaders saw what they wanted to see. And they made the mistake many others do outside of the cloud of chaos that consistently hangs over Ashburn: They treat the Washington Football Team like a normal NFL franchise.
Inside the aura of self-destruction Snyder has presided over for two decades, the executives and players who have the owner’s ear often seem to suffer from a particular brand of self-aggrandizing delusional thinking.
So Haskins thinks he’s had bad times. What about his coach, Ron Rivera?
After Haskins put the coach — coming off chemotherapy treatment in his battle against cancer — and others around him at risk of serious illness or even death with his reckless party behavior ignoring COVID-19 protocols, Rivera gave him another shot.
Rivera took out a second mortgage on his culture rebuild by starting the owner’s quarterback and was rewarded for it with a performance that would have embarrassed John Beck.
There was something very un-Rivera-like about the decision to keep Haskins on the roster, let alone start him, after the quarterback betrayed his coaches and teammates.
The kid-gloves approach to Haskins last week was uncharacteristic enough that it raises the question of whether keeping him around was Rivera’s decision at all.
After Sunday’s performance by Haskins (14-for-28 for 154 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble), not even Snyder, who scouted and drafted the quarterback himself over the objections of the football people he paid to do that work, could object to cutting Haskins loose.
And what about the tough times for the quarterback who finished the game, Taylor Heinicke? He had to go home and try to explain to his family why his head coach thought Haskins was a better option to start against Carolina than him.
Haskins may have put it all in perspective when he told reporters, “Sometimes being human isn’t enough.”
This is a victim statement, of course, a variation of one of the pearls dropped by the man himself, the most valuable victim — Robert Griffin III — upon his exit from Washington:
“People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.”
Forgive them Dwayne — whoever they are.
Listen to Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan and the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.
• Thom Loverro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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