The National Football League has opened an investigation into the situation surrounding Todd Downing’s DUI. It comes just days after the league may have looked past Taylor Heinicke committing a potential rule violation of similar nature. In doing so, there are questions to be asked.
Hours after the Titans’ win over the Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, Tennessee offensive coordinator Todd Downing was arrested. He was charged with Driving Under The Influence.
The timing of the incident raises concerns that Downing may have violated league rules. As a result, the NFL plans to review the matter.
The investigation will be two-fold.
First and foremost, because Downing was arrested, the league will look into a violation of personal conduct policy. He may receive a fine and/or suspension based on the arrest.
Secondly, Downing and the Tennessee Titans will be investigated for a violation of league rules surrounding alcohol. That was announced on Friday.
“We have been in contact with the Titans regarding the matter which will be reviewed,” Chief NFL Spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email. “All league and club personnel, including coaches, are subject to potential discipline when a violation is determined to have been committed.”
This is where the timing of Todd Downing’s arrest raises questions in regard to selective enforcement.
Tennessee’s plane landed back in Nashville at 2:11am CT following the trip home from Green Bay. Downing was pulled over for speeding and booked for DUI at 3:49am CT.
According to league policy, alcohol is strictly prohibited on team planes and buses. The rule is in place to prevent situations in which players and/or coaches might drink enough alcohol to be above the legal limit of 0.08 percent BAC and then drive home after the game.
The NFL’s investigation into Downing’s DUI will try and determine if that may have been the case.
It is unclear as to whether Downing was in violation of the policy. If not, he drank enough alcohol to surpass the legal limit in less than one hour and 38 minutes. It is possible that could be true, but that is why the NFL is looking into the matter.
While investigating Todd Downing, the NFL seems to have turned a blind eye to an alcohol violation earlier this week.
“There is a policy that prohibits alcohol on team planes or buses,” McCarthy reiterated in his email regarding the NFL’s review of Downing’s DUI.
That policy may have been violated on Monday night. Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke appeared to be drinking alcohol on the team plane home.
In a video from hours after Washington’s win over undefeated Philadelphia, Heinicke was celebrating alongside a bucket of Busch Light beer, even holding one in his hand. He also took a few swigs on camera.
Now, for all we know, Heinicke was drinking prop beer. But what is the likelihood of that? Slim to none.
The video of Heinicke was celebrated, because it’s fun. However, it begs the question as to whether Washington was subject to the same investigation as the Titans for having alcohol on a team plane.
- If “all league and club personnel, including coaches, are subject to potential discipline when a violation is determined to have been committed,” did the NFL even look into the Heinicke video?
- Did or will the league punish the Commanders or any of its personnel for allowing alcohol on a team plane?
Should the answer to either of these questions be no, it is a glaring case of selective enforcement. The NFL would be choosing to ignore Heinicke’s violation on Monday while cracking down after Downing’s potential violation on Friday.
If the rule is the rule, whether it is a good rule or not, it should apply to everybody in all situations. Not only in a situation of negative publicity.
As it would turn out, the NFL did apply the no-alcohol policy to the Commanders. Washington issued disciplinary actions internally and the NFL was comfortable with its decision.