The Washington Football Team said it is aware of pictures on social media showing quarterback Dwayne Haskins not wearing a mask while attending an event with strippers.
The team said Tuesday it will handle the incident internally.
Haskins tweeted an apology, saying he spoke with coach Ron Rivera on Monday and “took full responsibility for putting the team at risk. It was irresponsible and immature and I accept responsibility for my action.” He also issued an apology to his teammates for “creating a distraction during our playoff push.”
Haskins later set his Twitter account to private.
It was unclear as of Tuesday afternoon where the photos of Haskins were taken. ESPN and other media outlets reported earlier Tuesday that the Instagram images were taken at a strip club.
But a source told ESPN later in the day that Haskins is telling people he hired the strippers for a private party at a hotel suite.
Washington could either fine or suspend Haskins based on the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.
Sources indicated to ESPN that the team is reluctant to suspend Haskins because of uncertainty surrounding the status of injured quarterback Alex Smith, who missed the Week 15 loss to Seattle with a calf injury. There is renewed optimism within the organization that Smith will return to play Sunday against Carolina.
The team said it has made the league aware of the pictures, which were taken hours after Haskins had started in Washington’s 20-15 loss to Seattle. Handling the issue internally likely means Haskins will be fined, as he was earlier this season when he violated COVID-19 protocols by making reservations for a family friend to stay at the team hotel the night before a road game against the New York Giants.
The breach was caught before the person arrived, but Haskins was still fined $4,833.
Rivera wants to prevent the Haskins storyline from overshadowing what’s at stake for the team: a chance to clinch the NFC East. Washington (6-8) can win the division if it beats the Panthers and the Giants lose to the Baltimore Ravens.
On Monday, before the pictures came to light, Rivera said about maintaining protocols: “That’ll be the thing that we will most certainly talk about as we get up into this. Where we are right now this late into the season, everything has gone so well. Let’s continue to focus in on staying clear of everything and staying healthy. Hopefully, we can maintain that and continue. We most certainly will talk about it.”
Washington has not lost any players from its active roster to the reserve/COVID-19 list this season.
The latest situation with Haskins will cause the team to take a hard look in the offseason regarding his future with the organization. Washington selected him with the 15th pick in the 2019 draft, a move spearheaded by owner Dan Snyder and not the scouts or coaching staff. Rivera’s staff inherited Haskins, and multiple sources said they felt they could make it work by challenging him.
With no preseason games, Rivera decided to give all the first-team reps to Haskins during training camp to fully prepare him for the season. Rivera named Haskins the starter in late August. Rivera said at the time that had it been a normal offseason, he would have had Haskins compete with Kyle Allen for the job. At the time, they weren’t sure what Smith would be able to do after missing the previous season because of a broken leg, and they had strongly considered placing him on injured reserve.
Haskins was benched after four games as multiple sources said they wanted to see better preparation from him during the week, among other things, and to take a more mature approach. He was demoted to third string for four weeks but became the No. 2 quarterback after Allen suffered a leg injury on Nov. 9.