Dwayne Haskins, 1997-2022.

When you reach a certain age, it’s the first number that sticks out. Because that person will never have the opportunity to reach that certain age themselves. And so much of life happens in that gap.

When you can remember what you were doing in 1997, how is it possible that someone who arrived that year is already gone?

How could it be that Dwayne Haskins, that cute kid in the grainy home video who told us he would one day play for Ohio State, didn’t even live 14 more years?

You’d think that would be the first thing — maybe the only thing — any person could focus on.

Sadly, that has not been the case in the wake of Haskins’ death at the age of 24. Some people placed a jaw-dropping amount of emphasis on what Haskins failed to accomplish at the NFL level.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was pilloried for his initial tweet breaking the news of Haskins’ death, which he soon deleted.

As a reporter, Schefter committed no sins. What he wrote was factually accurate. But it was also entirely without tact.

Former Buckeye Cardale Jones is absolutely right. Haskins’ on-field struggles in the NFL are not pertinent to this story.

One of the tragedies of his death — and by far the smallest of any when we’re talking about a man with a family — is the fact he’ll never have the chance to change that narrative. And it’s a narrative that doesn’t belong at all in the first paragraph about his death.

At least Schefter was only guilty of being tactless. And evidently, it didn’t take him too long to realize how bad a look it was. That puts him head-and-shoulders above Hall of Fame scout Gil Brandt, who abandoned humanity altogether in a ghoulish interpretation of Haskins’ death.

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Brandt went about 10 laps beyond the pale in an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Frankly, listening to it requires the same kind of stomach as when you watch a replay of Lawrence Taylor breaking Joe Theismann’s leg.

Brandt drew the extraordinary conclusion that Dwayne Haskins is dead because he left Ohio State a year too soon.

“He was a guy who was living to be dead, so to speak,” Brandt said. “They told him, ‘Don’t under any circumstances leave school early. You just don’t have the work habits.’ What’d he do? Left school early.”

“Maybe if he would have stayed in school a year he wouldn’t do silly things like jogging on a highway like that. If a guy has 2 drinks and weaves just a little to the right, something like that could easily happen.”

One might conclude Brandt was the person who had a couple of drinks too many in this scenario. But it appears he is simply that callous.

Beyond that, the wildly inappropriate analysis didn’t even accurately describe what took place. Haskins wasn’t hit by a drunk driver because he was out until the wee hours of morning. He was struck by a dump truck at 6:37 a.m.

It’s a horrific manner of death that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

The 90-year-old Brandt later apologized for the comments. And maybe once you get beyond a certain age, these types of thoughts escape your mouth when previously they would have been cut short somewhere in the cerebrum.

But it is outrageous and perverse, really, that this is how any person should be assessed on the day of their death. That anyone should think of Dwayne Haskins first and foremost as a guy who threw more interceptions than touchdowns in the NFL.

Sure, football is the reason most of us know who Haskins is. But it doesn’t encapsulate the totality of who he was.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day provided the perfect tone to remind us of this.

And if we must view Haskins through a football lens, it bears mentioning that he was extraordinary at it.

Dwayne Haskins, football player

As Joe Burrow has ascended into stardom, fans who don’t follow the Big Ten can be surprised at how he ended up at LSU in the first place.

He’s Joe Burrow, Heisman Trophy winner. Top 5 starting quarterback in the NFL. Guy who led the Cincinnati Bengals to a Super Bowl.

But in 2018, Dwayne Haskins was better. And there wasn’t any question about it. Burrow knew this and transferred to LSU because he had a better chance of playing.

After beating out Burrow for the starting job, Haskins went out and completed 70% of his passes for 50 touchdowns and 4,831 yards. It was video game stuff, and even then only if you switch the game to an easier setting or extend the length of the quarters.

That’s where fate took a twist.

Whether or not Haskins left college too early no longer merits debate. But he damn sure was drafted by the worst franchise in North American professional sports, and it’s fair to wonder if falling into the inept hands of the Washington Redskins/Football Team/Commanders doomed him from the start.

Every inch of that organization is covered in stench, as is well-documented by former quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Alex Smith and anyone who is currently suing the team or owner Dan Snyder for a variety of reasons.

A franchise with a good culture, like the one he later joined in Pittsburgh, could have helped him write a different football story in the NFL. It was far too early to declare it over.

Unfortunately, we were robbed of the opportunity to see that happen. And even that is an inconsequential matter in the greater scheme.

Dwayne Haskins is gone before even reaching the prime of his life. That, and the devastating consequences it holds for his friends, family and former teammates, is the only thing that really matters.