The patience of the Washington Redskins paid off on the first night of the 2019 NFL Draft when the quarterback that they coveted and wanted to be the next face of the franchise fell to them at their original pick. The last time they were in search of their young franchise quarterback the sent a bevy of picks to the then St. Louis Rams in order to move up to No.2 overall in the 2012 draft to select Robert Griffin III but with the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft they selected Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
All of his life Haskins has been wearing the No.7 on his chest and on the back of his jersey’s dating back to his pop warner days. There hasn’t been a Redskins player wear that number since the great Joe Theismann retired after a horrific career-ending leg injury. Before the Redskins legend suffered the gruesome fate, he established himself as the best quarterback in franchise history and led them to their first Superbowl victory in 1982 season.
While the jersey number was never officially retired by the team, it has just been an unspoken understanding that no one is to wear that number without okay from the front office and the blessing of Theismann himself.
Shortly after being drafted Haskins reached out to the all-time great to formally ask his permission to be the first Redskins player to dawn the No.7 for the first time since 1985 when Theismann was carted off the field for what would be the last time. Theismann granted the team’s next franchise quarterback his official permission to wear the jersey number that means so much to them both as well as all of Redskins nation.
“I want the kid to be successful,” said Theismann during an interview with 106.7 the Fan′s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “He doesn’t need to worry about, ‘Well, I wish I could’ve worn a different jersey, I wish I could’ve worn a number.’ If this is one less thing that puts any problems out there or issues out there for him or statements or comments, let’s make his life as easy possible, so that we can get the success from him that we’re hoping and expecting.”
Now that he has been given the green light to keep the same number that he has had all of his life, the responsibility of living up to what the number means is heightened and the pressure to carry on the legacy of greatness associated with that single digit for that organization is squarely resting on his broad shoulders.
As tall of an order and in no way easy of a task that it will be, there are many, including Theismann himself that believe that Haskins is up to the challenge and is destined for great things at the helm of the franchise’s offense for the next decade or so.
This isn’t the first time that a fresh-faced rookie who is eager to prove himself and prove all of the doubters wrong has requested the permission of one of the icons of the team that they were drafted to wear the jersey number that he made great in his playing career in the hopes of doing the same over the course of their own career.
Last year a running back from the University of Colorado at Boulder went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft despite having a standout college career for the Bears and signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent. After having an outstanding preseason and earning a spot on the roster while sporting the single digit No.2, he beseeched Broncos legend and Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis to wear the jersey No.30. That first-year player was Phillip Lindsey and he went on to rush for over 1,000 yards, earn a Pro Bowl bid and have one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.
Where Haskins and Lindsey differ is not just that one went undrafted and the other was a top 15 pick in their respective drafts, it is also the body of work they recorded in college. Lindsey started and starred all four years at Colorado whereas Haskins had a sensational final season with the Buckeyes in which he led the FBS with 50 passing touchdowns and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Although he is what some pundits call a one-year wonder, he improved tremendously from the start of the season to the end and possesses all of the desirable intangibles that NFL teams look for and covet in their franchise quarterbacks. His build, arm, accuracy, delivery, touch and special awareness inside the pocket as well as his ability to make throws off platform on the run or in the face of pressure are all already at a pro level and will serve him well throughout his career.
Haskins is just scratching the surface of his potential and could not only live up to the legacy of the original No.7 in the nation’s capital, but according to Reskins team officials, Theismann himself and pundits across the league he has the ability, aptitude, and mental fortitude to make name and establish a legacy of his own with the No.7 on his chest.
“It’s not a retired number,” he said. “I guess you could call it a semi-active number. And it was important to him,” said Theismann. “He obviously has been designated the future of this franchise, and why not make it easy on him? I guess it will be interesting to see another No. 7 running out there that’s six inches taller and about, I don’t know, 40 pounds heavier.”