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VOL. 46 | NO. 47 | Friday, November 25, 2022

Stunned Titans forced to confront Downing’s post-game DUI arrest

By Terry McCormick

Updated 3:31PM
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The Todd Downing DUI arrest hours after the Green Bay game pockmarked the Titans’ victory in Lambeau Field, taking the focus off the team and putting it onto a preventable distraction.

Mike Vrabel, in his Zoom call with the media later the day after the win, tried his best but couldn’t hide his frustration.

“Don’t do dumb (expletive) to hurt the team” is one of Vrabel’s favorite slogans. He uses that in reference to personal foul penalties and other pre- or post-snap infractions that can hurt the Titans chances of winning.

One can only imagine Vrabel probably felt that way in the aftermath of Downing’s arrest. The investigation, which no doubt will involve police and the NFL, will be something that could be pushed into the offseason before any punishments are handed out. That is, if the league waits for the justice system to do its work.

Of course, the league always has the option of handing down discipline before a case is resolved.

“I can’t tell you that has always been the case,” Vrabel says. “I am not very confident on that either way. I am not sure how the league goes about that. We will just comply with whatever they ask us to do, then we will make a decision and figure out what’s next.”

The Titans have been able to survive several distractions during Vrabel’s time as head coach. Before Downing’s arrest, perhaps the biggest issue of the Vrabel era was the Titans failure to comply with all the COVID-19 regulations with an off-site practice while the facility was closed down.

Other than that, the infractions have been misdemeanor issues involving players.

And for the record, Vrabel has been solid at getting his squad refocused in the middle of storms. Amid the COVID scandal, with some reports saying the team could lose draft picks or forfeit games, the Titans ransacked the Buffalo Bills using a short-handed roster and playing on a Tuesday with virtually no real practice time.

While the Downing situation is a completely different matter, it is a situation that Vrabel and the organization now must navigate that removes the focus from football, which is where Vrabel would prefer it stay.

But he and the Titans instead are faced with dealing with it, something Vrabel says will be done head on.

“I will make sure that it gets addressed when we get back in here,” Vrabel says. “There are a lot of things that we are working through. I know you all have spent a lot of time around us, we will try to address it and we will provide support where support is needed.

“We will make sure that, just as always, if there is something that needs to be held accountable, we will make sure that person is held accountable. We will address it.”

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