The NFL shouldn’t have needed to ship the memo that reminded its 32 groups about its restriction towards alcohol on group properties and group flights.

On Nov. 1, former Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid, the son of Andy Reid, obtained a three-year jail sentence for severely injuring a younger woman whereas driving drunk 21 months in the past. Reid, 37, was on his approach dwelling from work and intoxicated when he ran his automotive right into a car parked on the shoulder of a Kansas City-area freeway. So the risks of drunk driving ought to have been recent on the minds of most within the NFL neighborhood, proper?

Apparently not recent sufficient, as a result of two incidents in the identical week prompted a response from the league.

First, a social media put up surfaced exhibiting Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke having fun with a beer on the group airplane whereas celebrating his group’s win Monday night time over Philadelphia.

Then, early Friday morning, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing was arrested and charged with driving underneath the affect and dashing simply minutes after his group’s return flight from Green Bay landed following Tennessee’s win over the Packers.

Maybe the Heinicke social media put up solely mirrored poor judgment and immaturity; a breaking of the “act like you’ve been there before” code. But the league condemns such conduct as a result of that very factor can result in Downing’s transgression, which is way extra severe. The coach was lucky to have been pulled over earlier than he killed somebody.


Titans OC Todd Downing arrested, charged with DUI, speeding

So, due to what may have occurred, the NFL reminded groups of the coverage.

The assertion issued by the league learn:

“In light of recent events, clubs are reminded that league policy prohibits alcoholic beverages, including beer, in the locker rooms, practice or office facilities, or while traveling on team buses or planes at any time during the preseason, regular season or postseason. This applies to all players, coaches, club personnel and guests traveling with your team. This policy has been in place for many years. Making alcohol available at club facilities or while traveling creates significant and unnecessary risks to the league, its players, coaches and others. Violations of this important policy will be taken seriously and will result in significant discipline.

“Each club should ensure that its travel arrangements do not include providing alcohol service at any time and should also take appropriate steps to confirm that alcohol (whether beer or any other alcoholic beverage) is not available at its facility. Please direct all further questions on this subject to Management Council of Football Operations.”

Downing, 42, was working a car in a harmful method and will have skilled a repeat of the Britt Reid scenario, or worse.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel spoke to reporters Friday and declined to enter particulars due to the continuing authorized course of, however he did say, “We all have a great responsibility as members of this community, as coaches and players of this organization, as fathers and husbands and teammates to make great decisions, and we understand that.”

It’s unclear what sort of self-discipline Downing — one in all Vrabel’s prime assistants and somebody beforehand regarded by some within the league as a future head teaching candidate — may obtain from the Titans and the NFL.

But it’s necessary that league and Titans officers ship a robust message as a result of though Downing made a mistake and doesn’t have any identified related prior infractions, he’s able of authority and affect as a coach, who ought to set a very good instance for his gamers and members of the Nashville neighborhood.

The league additionally must ship a robust message as a result of, for no matter purpose, consuming and driving stays an issue within the NFL, simply because it does in America, the place greater than 10,000 a 12 months are killed by drunk drivers, in keeping with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It was one 12 months in the past that Raiders vast receiver Henry Ruggs, allegedly whereas driving underneath the affect and at a velocity of 150 mph, struck and killed a fellow motorist, 23-year-old Las Vegas resident Tina Tintor. Tintor and her canine burned alive because of the crash, which came about at 3:39 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2021.

At least 4 NFL gamers within the final 25 years have been concerned in drunk driving incidents that killed others. Meanwhile, others, together with figures in positions of energy like Indianapolis Colts proprietor Jim Irsay and Arizona Cardinals normal supervisor Steve Keim every pleaded responsible to driving underneath the affect within the final eight years. The NFL’s punishments have different in severity.

Ruggs, who’s going through as much as 20 years in jail, was reduce by the Raiders, however the league has but handy down extra punishment whereas ready for the authorized course of to play out.

In 2014, the NFL suspended Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent 10 video games after he misplaced management of his automotive whereas driving with an alcohol stage greater than twice Texas’ authorized restrict and killed his passenger and teammate Jerry Brown.

Browns vast receiver Donte Stallworth was suspended your entire 2009 season for pleading responsible to DUI manslaughter. Before him, former Rams defensive finish Leonard Little in 1998 served an eight-game suspension after he hit and killed a girl.

Punishments even have different for people responsible of DUIs that didn’t contain deaths. There have been repeat offenders similar to Aldon Smith and Michael Floyd, who’ve additionally obtained a number of pictures at redemption. And we’ve seen non-players obtain leniency after DUIs. Irsay, who needs to be held to the very best normal, served a six-game suspension and paid a $500,000 nice. Keim, who additionally ought to have been held to a excessive normal, served a five-week suspension, paid a $200,000 nice and stored his job.

It stays unclear what sort of punishment Downing may obtain, however in keeping with the NFL’s coverage on substance abuse, self-discipline for gamers responsible of a first-offense DUI, absent aggravating circumstances, is a three-game suspension with out pay. A second offense carries an eight-game ban. Those tips apply to gamers, however Downing may very well be taking a look at a punishment extra like Keim’s. The when additionally stays unknown. The NFL usually waits for the completion of the authorized course of. But ought to the Titans act swiftly or look forward to a ruling from the NFL?

Downing very properly may have broken his prospects for a head teaching job within the close to future, and rightfully so. You can’t successfully lead whereas displaying such poor judgment. But not solely ought to Downing have identified higher, however his choice was additionally fully pointless as a result of all NFL groups supply free driver service at any hour of the day for any participant or coach who has been consuming.

Now, the Titans, as a substitute of with the ability to give attention to constructing momentum after Thursday night time’s victory over Green Bay, probably must scramble for a short lived contingency plan at offensive coordinator. That may threaten their probability of successful video games. But as a result of Downing selected to place himself forward of the group and any particular person sharing the highway with him Friday morning, he and the Titans will rightfully need to take care of the repercussions.

The coach ought to depend himself blessed that he didn’t severely injure or kill another person. And he probably must work onerous to regain belief whereas additionally serving to his gamers be taught from his errors.

Hopefully Downing’s arrest serves as a wake-up name for all NFL gamers, coaches and followers, and the league’s memo helps save workers and followers from future alcohol-related transgressions. But historical past suggests it could quickly fade into distant reminiscence.

The NFL should do what it might to keep away from that, nonetheless. The league’s officers wish to view its organizations and groups as leaders of their communities. Now right here’s one other probability for the league to do the precise factor by dealing with the Downing scenario in a approach that sends a transparent message towards drunk driving whereas hopefully serving to save its workers and followers from related life-threatening errors.

(Photo of Todd Downing: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

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