For NFL players, their decisions impact more than just themselves. Being a team and sharing the locker room with other professionals, one wrong choice could go beyond a personal consequence. Former NFL offensive lineman Trevor Matich witnessed that firsthand during his career.
"I'll tell you this, as a player in the locker room I've had teammates that have done dumb things that have hurt the team," Matich said on Washington Football Kickoff Live. "Along the lines of they stay out too late, they break curfew on the road, things like that. That affects them, it affects us to a degree."
That dynamic still exists in the league, but a new factor in 2020 has only made it more important for players to make the right decisions. The coronavirus pandemic forces teams to increase health protocols and monitor almost every movement a player makes. One slip up could lead to an outbreak that impacts the health and safety of others, postponement of games and fines.
So when second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins reportedly broke the team's COVID-19 protocols by making a reservation for a family friend at the team hotel prior to Washington's Week 6 game against the New York Giants, Matich said his actions could have the locker room viewing him differently moving forward.
It wasn't just himself that Haskins put at risk, but his entire team. Amid the pandemic, the wrong choice could change everything.
"But, COVID affects everybody. COVID could shut down the team for weeks if it gets into the ecosystem of an NFL franchise," Matich said. "To not obey every single protocol is something that I, as a teammate, would be wondering what in the world he's thinking and I would think of it completely differently than if he just busted curfew."
Haskins was fined $4,833 for his actions; the maximum fine according to ESPN's Adam Schefter is $14,650. The quarterback was with the team for Sunday's game against the Cowboys, but was inactive as he serves as the No. 3 passer on the depth chart.
A 2019 first-round pick, Haskins entered the season as the starter before being benched after Week 4.