Last year’s alleged golf-course misconduct from Dolphins guard Richie Incognito has prompted a fair question regarding the possible root of Incognito’s recklessness that day.
Why was alcohol available at a team function where players were present?
In 2007, the NFL banned alcohol from all team functions, buses, and flights. Read broadly and applied strictly, the rule would encompass something like the Dolphins’ annual golf outing.
According to the league office, it doesn’t.
“That alcohol ban didn’t include events like a charitable golf tournament,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email. “The story [from 2007] doesn’t fully explain the policy, which did not impose new policies or change policies regarding serving of alcohol at other club-related functions, including at sponsor or hospitality events, charitable golf tournaments, holiday parties, and related settings. In each of these settings, clubs remain responsible for determining their own policies concerning whether alcohol will be served and if so, under what conditions.”
For outings at a golf course, it becomes difficult if not impossible to eliminate access to alcohol. Regardless, the mixture of players, sponsors, and alcohol can result in all sorts of unwanted outcomes.
The ability of teams to conduct certain functions with alcohol being served has created friction within some teams regarding whether players will be attending team events where alcohol is served. Typically, management of the football operation opposes it, while management of the business operation (especially the folks responsible for keeping sponsors happy) supports it.
It’s unknown whether the Dolphins debated internally the wisdom of mixing alcohol, sponsors, Incognito, and volunteers at the golf event. It’s safe to say that the Dolphins would, in hindsight, remove alcohol or Incognito or the volunteer whom he allegedly assaulted away from the May 2012 event.