Coach Ron Rivera spoke to Haskins on Monday after learning of the incident, and the team worked in conjunction with the NFL to handle the matter internally. It is not clear what Haskins’s punishment will be. The league declined to comment on the situation.
Haskins apologized on Twitter on Tuesday morning but then made his account private, restricting who could see the posts to only the accounts that followed him.
“I want to publicly apologize for my actions this past Sunday,” he wrote. “I spoke with Coach Rivera yesterday and took full accountability for putting the team at risk. It was irresponsible and immature of me and I accept responsibility for my action.”
The incident comes at a critical time for Washington, and it complicates an already tenuous quarterback situation in the middle of a playoff run. The team could clinch the NFC East title on Sunday with a win over the Carolina Panthers and a loss by the New York Giants at Baltimore. But starting quarterback Alex Smith is dealing with a calf strain that caused him to miss the loss to Seattle, and his status for this week remains unclear.
“I also want to apologize for creating a distraction for my team during our playoff push,” Haskins added in his Twitter statement. “I will learn and grow from this and do what’s best for the team moving forward.”
Patronizing a nightclub without personal protective equipment is considered “High Risk COVID-19 Conduct,” according to the NFL’s coronavirus protocols, and is punishable by a fine of up to one week’s salary or a suspension of up to four games. A team has discretion to discipline a player or personnel member for conduct detrimental to the team for violating a coronavirus protocols. If it declines, it’s typically up to the league to decide whether the violation warrants discipline.
Washington, according to the person with knowledge of the matter, has no plans to release Haskins. He was fined by the team in October, also for violating the coronavirus protocols, when he made a reservation for a family friend at the team’s hotel ahead of its game against the New York Giants.
It is unclear whether Washington’s disciplining of Haskins will affect his availability for Sunday’s game against Carolina. Behind him on the depth chart are journeyman Taylor Heinicke and undrafted rookie Steven Montez.
Heinicke has played in seven games, including one start, over his five-year NFL career. He signed with Minnesota after going undrafted in 2015 and spent two seasons with Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner as his quarterbacks coach. Heinicke later played for Turner and Rivera with Carolina. Montez, who was undrafted out of Colorado, signed with Washington in April and has spent the season on the practice squad. He was elevated this past Sunday to be Haskins’s backup.
As news of Haskins’s actions became public, several people around the NFL chimed in on social media.
“The Washington Football Team players must be extremely disappointed in Dwayne Haskins,” Hall of Famer Tony Dungy tweeted. “They’re fighting for a playoff spot and need him to be a leader. He made a very immature decision that put his whole team at risk. He admitted it-now they have to help him grow and move forward.”
Torrey Smith, a former wide receiver who played for Rivera with Carolina in 2018, added: “The most frustrating thing about Haskins situation is he doesn’t understand he may never have another opportunity like this in his career. He is talented but is making decisions like his future is certain. I hope he gets it together because he has the potential to be great.”
Haskins, the No. 15 pick in the 2019 draft, has had a tumultuous start to his NFL career, and his future with Washington is precarious. Over the past three months, he has been demoted for his play and disciplined twice for his off-field actions.
Haskins was benched after Week 4 because of concerns over his performance and a lack of preparation.
“It’s something that some guys grow and develop and understand how important it is,” Rivera said in November. “A lot of times, guys will rely on their great talent. That talent will get you by for a while, but there’s a point in everybody’s career where everything catches up to talent. The only thing that separates it are the guys that work the hardest.”
Haskins was initially relegated to third string, but he moved up to the backup position when Kyle Allen suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9. Haskins was appointed the starter this past Sunday because of Smith’s injury, and after throwing two interceptions he led a late comeback attempt that came up one score short. He finished with 295 passing yards and a touchdown.
“We’re not done,” he said afterward, shortly before he was photographed partying. “We have a big game next week versus Carolina. … Looking forward to the last home game of the season.”