In some cities (like Pittsburgh), a player drug arrest on Thursday night before a key game will get the player benched and/or deactivated.
Though it remains to be seen whether the Falcons will shut down defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux in response to his creation of an unwanted distraction less than 60 hours before a make-or-break effort against the 12-0 Saints, the team has issued a statement about the situation, in which they say nothing.
“We are aware of the situation concerning Jonathan Babineaux and are in the process of gathering information,” the team said in a release. “Because this is a legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.”
In fairness to the Falcons, it’s likely that no decision regarding whether Babineaux will play on Sunday has been made, since the matter just landed on their radar screen within the past few hours.
Technically, the substance abuse policy prevents teams from imposing discipline on a player who is arrested on drug charges. But that hasn’t stopped some teams from doing it; in 2008, the Steelers deactivated receiver Santonio Holmes after he was arrested three days before a home game against the Giants.
The Steelers lost that October game, 21-14. They would go on to finish 12-4 and win the Super Bowl.
For the 6-6 Falcons, who are already a game plus a tiebreaker behind the 7-5 Giants for the sixth seed in the NFC playoff field, the circumstances aren’t conducive to taking a stand based on principle.