Tragedy hit the NFL on Saturday with the death of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but mourning turned into rage for some after a set of wildly over-the-line comments by a Hall of Fame executive.
Gil Brandt, the pioneering Dallas Cowboys scout best known for helping construct the franchise's first two Super Bowl teams, used an appearance on the NFL's SiriusXM channel to make cracks about Haskins' decision-making and manner of death.
Asked about evaluating Haskins when the quarterback was entering the draft following a historic season at Ohio State, the 90-year-old Brandt described him as "a guy living to be dead," criticized his decision to leave school early and speculated "maybe if he stayed in school a year he wouldn’t do silly things," alluding to Haskins reportedly getting hit by a truck while walking on an interstate for unknown reasons.
The comments were captured by NBC Sports' Pete Damilatis on Twitter and quickly went viral:
Here is @Gil_Brandt on NFL radio when asked about Dwayne Haskins.
“He was a guy that was living to be dead.”
“It was always something” with Haskins
“Maybe it he stayed in school a year he wouldn’t do silly things [like] jogging on a highway.” pic.twitter.com/cuZZdqYOck
— Pete Damilatis (@PeteDamilatis) April 9, 2022
After several hours of some of the harshest criticism you will see on social media in the NFL, Brandt tweeted an apology admitting he "reacted carelessly and insensitively."
This morning while learning of Dwayne Haskins’ passing, I reacted carelessly and insensitively on a radio interview. I want to apologize to Mr. Haskins’ family and anyone who heard my poor choice of words. I truly apologize. My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time.
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) April 9, 2022
Since leaving the Cowboys, Brandt has often worked as one of the media's most prominent draft analysts. He joined NFL.com at its launch in 1995 and still writes there now, though he may have already written his last word for the league website after this interview.
A number of athletes were publicly livid with the Hall of Famer:
@Gil_Brandt I do not know or will assume to but please don’t speak on my friend. He will be missed and your words are disgraceful. We are all hurting right now
— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) April 9, 2022
Where is the empathy for Dwayne and his family?
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) April 9, 2022
I really hope you didn’t mean what you said about Dwayne @Gil_Brandt
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) April 9, 2022
Remove Gil Brandt from the Hall of Fame. That's inexcusable.
— Darron Lee (@DLeeMG8) April 9, 2022
You’re wild @Gil_Brandt disrespectful all of it.
Brandt wasn't the only media member to get in hot water either, as ESPN's Adam Schefter received widespread criticism for describing Haskins as "a standout at Ohio State before struggling to catch on with Washington and Pittsburgh in the NFL" while reporting his death.