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

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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.

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