Ryan Leaf saw himself in Dwayne Haskins but hopes the QB can turn it around

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Ryan Homler
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Ryan Leaf saw himself in Haskins but hopes the QB can turn it around originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When the Washington Football Team was in the middle of sorting through a mess involving soon-to-be-released quarterback Dwayne Haskins and broken COVID-19 protocols, former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the situation.

"Listen, this is exactly what you think it is. Utter ignorance. There’s something about the brain chemistry of an elite athlete that has everything & feels slighted & hurt," Leaf wrote in a Tweet. "You have zero impulse control, no one will tell me what I cannot do. I swear it’s like looking in a mirror!"

There were multiple reasons why Leaf saw himself in the young passer. Both were high draft picks with big expectations, as Leaf went No. 2 overall to the Chargers in 1998. Both were unable to match that play and live up to the hype.

What really stuck out to Leaf, however, was Haskins' actions that ultimately led to the end of his tenure in Washington. After being given another opportunity to start after being benched early in the season, Haskins spent the night following a late-season loss partying mask-less.

Leaf, when speaking on 106.7's Grant and Danny, explained that he went through a very similar situation. After being given a second chance in San Diego, he squandered it on the field and then went to a strip club with friends. He feels that what he was thinking at that time is what Haskins dealt with as well.

“When you don’t feel like people have your back and you are supposed to be the man and there’s entitlement that comes with that. And you just impulsively act out and you do what you want," Leaf said. "No one is going to tell me what I’m going to do. I am the man, you better recognize that. That’s exactly how I behaved and acted out.”

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For Leaf, his actions on and off the field eventually became too much for him to overcome and his career derailed quickly. To many, he's seen as one of the biggest busts in NFL Draft history.

Some may see Haskins heading in a similar direction, but to Leaf, there is still time for that to change. Examining what Haskins said following his release, Leaf believes that the quarterback does truly understand what he needs to change to be successful. In addition, Leaf is a fan of where Haskins landed after Washington.

“I love the Pittsburgh Steelers picking him up, I really did," Leaf said. "That is an organization that historically has been a foundation of strength. They tend to not suffer fools. If you’re not willing to be a part of what they’re trying to do, you’re gone.”

Understanding what Haskins is going through, and what tests lie ahead, Leaf is hopeful that the young quarterback can still find his way in the NFL under the right set of leadership and increased maturity. Though it didn't fully work out for Leaf, he will always be someone rooting for others to turn things around. 

"I don’t go into the draft each year hoping somebody is a bigger bust than me because it would take me off the list. I want everybody to be successful," Leaf said. "I want them to have this amazing dream realized of being a successful NFL quarterback because guess what? There aren’t many that get the opportunity and I’d love for nothing more than Dwayne to have that show in Pittsburgh ultimately.”