Would Commanders’ alcohol on plane have been an issue without the Todd Downing arrest?

Washington Commanders v Philadelphia Eagles
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After the Commanders beat the Eagles on Monday night, a video landed on social-media with Washington quarterback wearing chains on his neck and carrying a beer in his hand on the flight home from Philly.

We mentioned on Tuesday’s PFT Live that it looked to be a violation of a supposed bright-line rule regarding alcohol on team planes or buses. To be certain, I asked a General Manager from another team whether beer on the plane was permitted. The response was unequivocal.

“Hell no.”

We asked the league office about it, but the league office didn’t respond. No one said anything about it on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. There was no indication that anything was amiss.

Then came Friday morning. Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing was arrested for DUI. The timeline makes it seems likely if not obvious that he was drinking on the team plane from Green Bay or the team bus from the airport to the facility.

It became the story of the day. Eventually, the connection was made to Heinicke drinking something cheaper than a Heineken. It was reported that the Commanders essentially self-reported the violation, punished the players preemptively, and avoided any league discipline.

Some around the league are curious about the chain of events. As once league source explained it to PFT, coaches and staff sit among the players. The organization knew what was happening as it was happening. It only became an issue once the video emerged. And it only became reported after Downing was arrested and the league office sent a memo to all teams reminding them about a rule for which no reminder should have been needed.

“The whole thing is a joke,” the source said, arguing that but for the video and the Downing arrest, no one ever would have said anything about any of it.

The source has a point. Anyone who had made a major issue about the alcohol angle from the Heinicke video would have been called a narc, a snitch, and/or a killjoy Karen. But what if one of those players had had a little too much on the plane? What if one of those players had gotten into an accident on the way home?

It shouldn’t have taken Todd Downing’s arrest to result in a memo being issued. The Britt Reid situation should have done it. Then again, the league probably had no interest in drawing attention to the reality that Reid drank at the Chiefs’ facility before crushing a wreck that seriously and permanently injured a five-year-old girl. It’s much easier to put everyone on notice after an alcohol-related incident that didn’t get anyone injured or worse.

17 responses to “Would Commanders’ alcohol on plane have been an issue without the Todd Downing arrest?

  1. If they have too many on the plane, just as if they have too many at the club, then they just don’t need to drive… What am I missing?

  2. Pretty obvious. They have the rule to try to limit their liability, but they don’t actually care unless somebody does something stupid.

  3. Todd Downing is a 42 year old man. He made a decision to drink. He made a decision to drive. He should be fired already, but he won’t because they continue to place blame on the team and not the person who committed the crime.

  4. Here is how easy it is….

    Guys no phones and social media during private team events. This includes locker room, hotel, plane, or anytime the team is isolated from the public.
    Or … The team hires a group of personnel that must approve any social media that occurs when the team is in a private setting.

  5. This has been happening for a lot longer than that. The NFL turned a blind eye when a JUDGE labeled Andy Reid’s home “a drug emporium.” The league turned a blind eye when Garrett overdosed an died at Eagles Training Camp. The NFL turns a blind eye every year, through the playoffs, the Super Bowl and the Pro Bo– okay well maybe not the Pro Bowl but what about after every Conference Championship Game and Super Bowl.
    “And we now go live to Jim Nantz whose in the winng team locker room…” Cut to players literally showering each other in champagne. The league has turned so many blind eyes that they must be part dragon fly.
    (some species of dragonfly have more than 28,000 lenses per compound eye, a greater number than any other living creature)

  6. 35 min flight. He was drinking way before train took off if it was Busch Light. Caustic atmosphere

  7. Drinking and driving is unacceptable and crime. Period. So is public drunkenness. But why shouldn’t an adult be able to have a beer on a plane? Why is this a league rule?

  8. Players should be allowed to drink during the games. TV ratings would soar! Money and profits are all the NFL cares about.

  9. ob2040 says:
    November 19, 2022 at 9:15 pm
    Todd Downing is a 42 year old man. He made a decision to drink. He made a decision to drive. He should be fired already, but he won’t because they continue to place blame on the team and not the person who committed the crime.
    _________

    No one is placing the blame on the team or anyone else other than Downing. We are discussing whether an NFL rule was broken. The teams have the responsibility to enforce said rule. Reminding teams to enforce the rule does not remove responsibility from Downing.

  10. I honestly never knew that the players weren’t allowed to consume alcohol on the flights home. I assumed that many drank and the coaches made the call when to stop.

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