Heath Shuler perfectly embodies the problems that the Washington Redskins — and now, Washington Football Team — had finding a franchise quarterback.
The third overall pick in 1994, Shuler’s career in Washington went much like what Dwayne Haskins is going through now. Shuler started several games in his rookie season and had some first-year struggles before the then-Washington Redskins gave up on him in his sophomore year.
If football doesn’t work out for Haskins, he might want to consider following in Shuler’s footsteps by going down a political path.
Heath Shuler is a tremendous NFL draft bust
A record-setting quarterback at Tennessee, Heath Shuler declared for the 1994 NFL draft after he finished in second for the 1993 Heisman Trophy.
Washington used the third overall pick on Shuler, who eventually signed a seven-year, $19.25 million contract with the Redskins after a lengthy holdout.
Shuler did not play well as a rookie, completing only 45.3% of his passes for 1,658 yards and 12 touchdowns in 11 games and eight starts. Although 11 games is a fairly small sample size, Washington seemed destined to part ways with Shuler after a tough rookie season.
Shuler didn’t improve in 1995, completing 52.8% of his passes for 745 yards, three touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
Washington benched Shuler in 1996 and traded him to the New Orleans Saints for two draft picks. Shuler hit 52.2% of his passes and went 4-5 in nine starts, but only threw two touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
An injury kept Shuler out for the 1998 season and ended his career.
Shuler went into politics when he retired
When his NFL career ended in the late 1990s, Heath Shuler returned to the University of Tennessee and finished his degree in psychology.
After a brief career in real estate, Shuler ran for office as a Democrat in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district. Interestingly, Shuler’s cultural mountain values platform lined up more with traditionally conservative views, which made sense given his district.
According to The New York Times, Shuler opposed abortion rights, gay marriage and gun control.
In a 2005 interview with The Times, Shuler said he “wouldn’t change” how his NFL career went.
“High school and college were perfect. I never had obstacles. I never had to overcome anything. What happened in the NFL helped me deal with the negative. If I didn’t have that experience, what would I tell somebody who has a problem?”
Shuler defeated eight-term incumbent Charles H. Taylor and held office from 2007-2013.
What is Heath Shuler up to now?
All things must come to an end, something Heath Shuler acknowledged as much in February 2012.
Shuler announced that month that he wouldn’t run for another term and, as of November 2020, never ran for another form of office.
Shuler instead became a lobbyist for Duke Energy, a North Carolina-based electric company.
Earlier this year, Shuler endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the U.S. Presidential Election. Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump earlier this month and is expected to officially take office in January.