The tragic death of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins sent shock waves throughout the organization and the entire NFL. Haskins, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, finished third in the Heisman race in his lone year as a starter for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Just 24 years old, Haskins was killed after he was struck by a dump truck on a Florida highway. The strong-armed QB was in Florida working out with teammates in preparation for the upcoming season.
The impact and abruptness of Haskins’ death rally resonated with teammate Chase Claypool. “Mapletron,” as the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish star is affectionately known in and around “The Burgh,” details how he was with “Simba7” just before the fatal accident. During an interview on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, Claypool talked about that subject.
“I feel like I failed him,” Claypool said. “I feel like I could’ve changed the outcome, and that’s why it was so heavy. I was close. I was a minute away from stopping it essentially. From changing the outcome.”
“I think about him every day,” Claypool continued. “I only knew him for just over a year. Obviously, the cliché, you never know how much someone means to you until they’re gone. But being with him in his final moments and like seeing who he was as a person, just like in the purest form, that’s tough when you’re right there.”
-A moment of vulnerability-
The moment I realized I had lost a brother.
We are placed on this undesirable pedestal and become treated as if we are anything but human, but It’s okay to not be okay. Allow me to be the example. Love you, 3 🤍🕊 https://t.co/3ZGehDX49H pic.twitter.com/cIUHCiPM21
— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) April 9, 2022
Claypool, Haskins and other Steelers teammates traveled to the Sunshine State to train with newly signed QB Mitch Trubisky. Haskins was reportedly on his way to the airport to head home when the tragedy occurred.
Tomlin’s Message To Team Resonated With Mapletron
Following the QB’s death, head coach Mike Tomlin, whose team has seen its fair share of tragedy, sent a message.
“I think coach’s biggest thing is he just didn’t talk about football at all. At the end of the day, it’s really not about football right? It’s about your brothers, your family, people you love. He just said to never take anything for granted, especially when it comes to life.”
Wise words from Tomlin, who’s recognized around the league as one of the best leaders of men. That type of leadership is a huge reason he’s never had a losing season in a record 15 NFL campaigns as a head coach.
Tomlin’s positive team culture also played a role in the Steelers climbing from the 13th in the AFC with five weeks to go to take the final playoff spot in the AFC last season.
Steelers Expecting Big Things From Claypool This Season: Says He’s A Top-3 WR
Claypool has all the tools to be a top receiver in the league. As a rookie, the physically imposing pass-catcher nabbed 62 receptions for 873 yards and nine touchdowns. Last season he tallied 59 receptions for 860 yards and just two touchdowns.
With JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington both moving on, Claypool becomes the unquestioned No. 2 receiver behind Diontae Johnson. Those two, along with tight end Pat Freiermuth, rookie Calvin Austin III, and stalwart running back Najee Harris give the Steelers a plethora of playmakers for whomever Tomlin decides should be under center. Most likely it will be 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett.