Babineaux’s arrest gives Falcons a problem they don’t need (UPDATED)

Jonathan Babineaux is not smiling. No surprise.

Here's Jonathan Babineaux, not smiling.

Falcons coach Mike Smith has been scrambling to keep this season from falling apart. But it turns out this team has problems far beyond injuries.

What was Jonathan Babineaux doing out late on a Thursday night/Friday morning of a game week? What was one of the team’s defensive leaders, whom the team recently gave a $25 million extension to, doing with three bags of marijuana — at any time, but particularly two days before the Falcons’ biggest game of the season?

And what it does it say about the Falcons that they are leaning towards letting Babineaux play Sunday?

I know. It’s an important game. What was I thinking? Nothing like having a blazed defensive tackle to help your pass rush.

Babineaux officially is not guilty of anything yet. Except maybe for stupidity and an incredible lack of dedication, maturity and common sense. He was arrested following a traffic stop at 10:45 p.m Thursday night. He officially was booked at 1:01 a.m. Friday by Gwinnett County Police. There are five charges listed by his name (which is misspelled) on the docket: 1) No tag light visible; 2) Excessively tinted windshield; 3) Felony possession (over one ounce) of marijuana (changed from what police  originally said would be felony intent to distribute); 4) No driver’s license; 5) Expired tag. Safe to say No. 3 stands out.

The Falcons are declining comment for now, beyond a two-sentence statement that says, in short, “Legal matter. Blah blah blah. No comment.”

But stating the obvious here. Smith, who is trying to hold his sliding 6-6 team together, didn’t need this. Owner Arthur Blank, who is struggling to market this team, didn’t need this. Not ever, but particularly not now. Not after all the franchise has overcome. Not after a playoff berth last season and a 4-1 start this year has been followed by a 2-5 oil slick. The Falcons logically need to sweep their final four games to make the playoffs, and that means starting with a monumental upset this week over unbeaten New Orleans. Now this.

Michael Turner has a high ankle sprain. Matt Ryan has turf toe. Babineaux just has turf — 40 grams of it.

Babineaux has been one of the few defensive bright spots for the Falcons. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Babineaux has been one of the few defensive bright spots for the Falcons this season. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@AJC.com)

Injuries we can understand. Not arrests. Not ever. Certainly not on a Thursday night before game 13 that could eliminate your team from playoff contention.  Arrests turn bad teams turn into punch lines.

Injuries elicit sympathy. Arrests elicit scorn.

This isn’t the first time Babineaux has been in the news for the wrong reasons. In February of 2007, he was accused of killing his girlfriend’s pit bull, “Kilo” (an appropriate name given the current drug charge). Babineaux claimed self defense. The dog died of severe head trauma. In November of that year, he was cleared of the charges by Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter. But trouble doesn’t keep finding the same people for no reason.

The Falcons believed in Babineaux. That’s why they gave him the fat contract extension a year ago. He has been one of the few effective players on an otherwise dreadful defense. He plays the most snaps and makes the most tackles among linemen. He is tied for the team lead in sacks (five), leads in tackles-for-loss (eight) and has forced two fumbles. But a player the Falcons circled as a building block now has been circled by the NFL, as he relates to any potential violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

If the Falcons let Babineaux play and they were speaking on this matter , they would tell you they’re doing nothing wrong. They’re just letting the legal situation play out. That’s fine. But somehow I get the feeling if this was the Buffalo game in two weeks and the race was over, Babineaux would be in street clothes. I guess now isn’t the time to take a moralistic stand.

Either way, it’s a mess the Falcons didn’t need.

618 comments Add your comment

Rex

December 11th, 2009
10:09 am

MiltonDawg got it right………How stupid & lazy of Babs…..NO TAG LIGHT, ILLEGAL TINT, EXPIRED TAGS, SUSPENDED LISCENSE…..driving around JUST BEGGIN to get pulled over….why dont you just taunt the cops with a WEED ON-BOARD bumper sticker Babs…..Great DT, but a complete moron ! Call a cab or a Limo….
And Vick Supporter: you sound as ignorant as Babineuax and your thug-hero ConVICK

Bubba

December 11th, 2009
10:09 am

In the great perspective, weed ain’t that big a deal. No government should tell me I don’t have the right to grow a plant in my back yard and smoke it if I want to. But government does it anyway, and like it or not, that’s the way of things. Having said that, if you’re gonna do it, have the freakin’ common sense to make sure that nobody has a reason to catch you doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. If you don’t have that kind of common sense, if you can’t fix your lights or renew your tag knowing that you’re doing something Johnny Law says you shouldn’t be doing, then you get what you didn’t pay for.

No sympathy from me, Babs. You got lazy, now you pay for it. The b**ch of it is that your stupidity affects others who count on you. In the immortal words, you ARE the weakest link. Good bye.

retired on the lake

December 11th, 2009
10:10 am

#1 weed should be legal
#2 it isn’t
#3 break only one law at a time
#4 NEVER SMOKE DOPE IN A VEHICLE it ain’t 1968 anymore
#5 if you smoke weed NEVER carry more than an ounce
#6 only safe place to smoke weed is in Gramma’s bathroom with the fan on (she won’t let anyone bother you)
#7 what in the hell were you out that late on a “school night” with a big test this week
#8 – #15 see #3 and list of charges on Gwinnett county docket
Damn Babbs what the hell were you thinkin’ ’bout.
OBVIOUSLY YOU WEREN’T!
this sux
Go Falcons overcome this mess!
Where is Eugene Robinson these days!

F-105 Thunderchief

December 11th, 2009
10:10 am

A thug is usually a petty criminal, or felon, who hangs out with others like him. They pose for mugshots looking like they don’t give a darn, even when it means they’ve potentially thrown away lifetime financial security. Got to keep the image up.

Tech Buzz

December 11th, 2009
10:10 am

2 choices…suspend him for the rest of the season, or just cut him RIGHT NOW!! I saw the headline a few moments ago and the first thing I said to myself, “Oh, S**T, what now?!”

As for the weed, it is different when an NFL player has it as opposed to a normal citizen, b/c as an athlete making big money, you have moral clauses in your contract that you HAVE to abide by. Basically, as long as you are with an organization/team, you can’t do, x,y,z! You represent that organization, and you are part of the “face” of that franchise. Teams have to establish that, so when things like this happen, fines or suspensions are warranted and necessary.

But good God though, man, use your freakin’ head for something besides separating your ears for crying out loud!!!! Just plain F-ing STUPID!!!!!

JTH

December 11th, 2009
10:12 am

Did Nocahoma curse the Falcons too? Leeman Bennett probably paid him too.

Please people this isnt a race thing, white people smoke pot too.

It’s getting hard to be optimistic about our Falcons. And now I have a headache.

Go Falcons

F-105 Thunderchief

December 11th, 2009
10:12 am

Oh, and there are thugs of all races, in case you were wondering.

EW

December 11th, 2009
10:17 am

Dogfighter Returns – http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1769685/posts

The dark substance closely associated with Marijuana they refer to is called hash or kif….one’s made from the other so there’s really no distinction. That’s how I remember it anyway…

Just Wondering

December 11th, 2009
10:17 am

To the dog lovers, referencing the pit bull incident, his 5 mo old daughter was nearby. If a dog or person who were displaying agressive behaviour at my children, or my wife, you better believe I would take them out.

But to the situation at hand..the tag is what got him. Tags and insurance are the law, and it’s what all the suburban cops look for. But at some point in all of our lives we have done stupid stuff. Pray for mercy for him, so when your “what was I thinking” moment comes, you will receive mercy too.

Quantavious

December 11th, 2009
10:19 am

I love weed but I want wins.

Greg

December 11th, 2009
10:19 am

I don’t think anyone has mentioned it, but Babs has been PLAYING unbelievably GREAT recently. Obviously whatever he’s been doing with marijuana hasn’t hurt his performance. Still, this is so sad for us fans…I’m sure Blank will insist he be gotten ridden of; then some other team will pick him up, and he’ll continue to be a very good, and better, DT. Net loss (a big one) for us. I hope there’s some way this story ends with JB still a Falcon, but I think the chances are slim.

Blanked

December 11th, 2009
10:21 am

Eight years ago this month Blank buys the team.
Aside from marketing and the seats in the dome, is he better and more successful thank Rankin, Rankin jr. and Jethro? No. The team still stinks. Still won’t have back to back winning seasons. Four head coaches under Blank. Twenty Four months from today Mike Smith will be gone. Blanks genius is in his fancy wardrobe selection every week.

oldfart

December 11th, 2009
10:22 am

The season hit the toilet with last Sunday’s performance. This is the flush. The back to back curse will continue. The Snuffy Smith Falcons deserved it but Blank doesn’t.

real fan

December 11th, 2009
10:22 am

0 tolerance for this type of childish stupidity . Suspend him until the court decision . And if hes guilty cut him . These guys get paid way too much money to act like fools. Oh and by the way get our contract money back from him and vick while your at it . Thats a butt load of cap money.

Street Rules

December 11th, 2009
10:23 am

Lay off–half the falcons players are from the ‘hood and need a lot of weed to get their thing going after practice, coming from the clubs or working it up with the ladies. A man got to let loose.

Just Wondering

December 11th, 2009
10:24 am

retired on the lake

lol! especially #6 “#6 only safe place to smoke weed is in Gramma’s bathroom with the fan on (she won’t let anyone bother you)

real fan

December 11th, 2009
10:26 am

P.S. Why has the NFL not compensated the cap money to the falcons after philly signed vick . The commish or Blank didnt seem to have any problem with that. And why havent you guys reported it. Thats alot of signing money.

Falconsforlife

December 11th, 2009
10:28 am

I officially believe in curses. What a disaster this has turned into. I don’t blame coach Smith like I blamed Mora when the similar thing happened, but it’s definitely a perfect illustration of when it rains it poors.

I’m definitely not looking forward to the game now.

At least we should have a decent year next year!

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2009
10:29 am

Real Fan — the Falcons’ cap hit pertains to a “bonuses” previously paid, not salary. That’s the Falcons’ responsibility.

no excuses

December 11th, 2009
10:30 am

NC Braves Fan

December 11th, 2009
10:30 am

Sacrebleu, Babineaux!

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2009
10:31 am

Just Wondering: Unless grandma has glaucoma.

uberVU - social comments

December 11th, 2009
10:31 am

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by JeffSchultzAJC: In case you haven’t heard, Jonathan Babineaux: stupid. #Falcons. http://bit.ly/5fQRC6…

DavidFalcon

December 11th, 2009
10:31 am

Babineaux should be gone, and soon. No question about it! How many opportunities can one waste? No only will he suffer the consequences of his “choices” from the team, Roger Goodell will calling soon. His career as a Falcon is OVER…and it should be. Live by the dope…die by the dope.
Goodbye Jonathan Babineax. You were having a pro-bowl type year. Now you just pissed it down you leg! GOOD RIDDANCE!

Michael

December 11th, 2009
10:31 am

There was another person in the car named Aaron Robinson (formerly of U of AZ) who will likely take the fall.

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2009
10:32 am

Greg — You’re right, Babineaux has been playing good. That’s what makes this worse.

[...] Falcons coach Mike Smith has been scrambling to keep this season from falling apart. But it turns out the team has problems far beyond injuries. Question: What is Jonathan Babineaux doing out late on a Thursday night/Friday morning — two days before …Read Original Story: Babineaux's arrest gives Falcons a problem it doesn't need – Atla… [...]

humble(1)

December 11th, 2009
10:34 am

dreadgator- I have a Catahoula/ German Shepard mix. Best dog ever. He has the size of a Shepard with the markings of a Catahoula.

Smoking weed is fine. Just do it at home, don’t carry over an ounce with you and for heavens sake have a valid tag and drivers license. 8-8, 7-9 here we come.

Falcon Fever

December 11th, 2009
10:35 am

To me it doesn’t matter anymore i’m going to support my falcons through it all, we have come a long way i’m dissapointed that the season who gone to this when it looked so promissing at the beginnig but in the end only ONE TEAM WILL WIN THE SUPERBOWL AND THE OTHER 31 WILL BE HOME JUST LIKE US…REALLY WE WASN”T GOING TO THE BOWL WITH THIS DEFENSE ANYWAY’S!!!

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2009
10:35 am

The Dogfighter Returns — Wrong. It was a fake water bottle used for hiding things.

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2009
10:36 am

Midnight — Pretty funny.

Michael

December 11th, 2009
10:36 am

Oh, I forgot. 30-24.

Hawk n the Ham

December 11th, 2009
10:36 am

Van Gorder, “Crap! What’s Mark Richt’s phone number again?”

Extremus

December 11th, 2009
10:37 am

Check another name off next year’s roster. Wow, between the injuries and the off-field issues, the way things are going this franchise might get set back to another year of futility for every positive move Thomas Dimitroff makes during an offseason. It’s very frustrating, to be sure.

Babineaux had been one of our few bright spots on the line recently, so this really hurts. It’ll be a huge distraction and whether they admit it or not, I think this organization is already looking ahead to next year and a whole lot of new faces.

jamesg

December 11th, 2009
10:37 am

I’m done. season over. Let’s go Hawks!

S.T.

December 11th, 2009
10:37 am

Dang, most of these guys are at least good for the economy. Give them a few mill and it goes immediately back into the system. Babs gets millions and still hurts our tax revenue. Send him packing

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2009
10:38 am

Dave — big difference between smoking and selling. Also big difference between off-season and Thursday of a game week.

jjacket3

December 11th, 2009
10:38 am

Stupid is as Stupid does. Solution: Trade or Suspend him TODAY because the season is already over for Atlanta anyway.

Tucker T

December 11th, 2009
10:39 am

What a complete idiot. First of all, for him to be using or selling weed is completely stupid. I wonder if he has taken and failed any drug tests. Second of all, if you are going to be stupid and ride around with that kind of stuff in your car, you make sure that car is in total compliance with the law so there are no excuses for the police to pull you over. Driving around with an expired tag? You are asking for the police to pull you over. He deserves whatever he gets and I hope the Falcons cut him. What a dumba$$.

FalconUGAFan

December 11th, 2009
10:40 am

Let’s not make this a race or Vick thing, ok.

tim

December 11th, 2009
10:40 am

A black man drivin down da road in a Escalade without a license and expired tag and smokin pot….you sure he isn’t in the NBA?

Nice picture Justin……you are one ugly dude.

Jeff Schultz

December 11th, 2009
10:40 am

Midnite — The team can just not play him for now. Suspension would come after we know more from a legal standpoint.

The Dogfighter Returns

December 11th, 2009
10:41 am

Dogfighter Returns – http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1769685/posts

The dark substance closely associated with Marijuana they refer to is called hash or kif….one’s made from the other so there’s really no distinction. That’s how I remember it anyway…
——
Have you ever heard of the term chain of command? :) :) . You misquoted what was printed. There wasn’t a dark substance closely associated with mj.

There was a small particulate and an aroma associated with mj. the particulate was never tested. had it been tested they would have stated what it was.

To quote Denzell Washington in training day “It’s not what you know it’s what you can prove.” It was a water bottle.

jdawg

December 11th, 2009
10:41 am

I am so glad this is not a Georgia Player….just goes to show you that it can happen to anyone…and these guys get paid big bucks….maybe that is why this is a college area…..

Falcon Fever

December 11th, 2009
10:42 am

We do need to draft the best availible next year and I think we need either DT or really a player like Jared Allen he made a big difference this year on Minnesota and Jamal Anderson w=has had ample amount of time. I say we get a veteran corner, I think Chris Houston’s problem is coaching and technique that can be fixed with good coaching, sorry Van Gorder but you’re not NFL material we should have kept Mike Zimmerman there was no reason to let him go…he’s a proven D-Coordinator

LaToya

December 11th, 2009
10:42 am

Can I get a quarter bag John? They are paying Ryan so much money and he is now hurt riding the bench so this guy who isn’t making more than the average U.S. income ($45,000) feels the need to support himself and family by hustlin’. Ha Ha

Sogaman

December 11th, 2009
10:42 am

Guilty of stupidity…there is no cure.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

December 11th, 2009
10:44 am

who would have thunk it, drug trafficking apparently pays more than playing professional football. No wonder we have a drug problem in this country.

FalconDawg

December 11th, 2009
10:45 am

Whopper Dawg, I absolutely agree with you. If you are convicted of drug possession, or a felony, you should be kicked out for life. I cannot understand how these idiots, who have become richer than their wildest dreams as a result of playing in the NFL, can jeopardize those riches doing something stupid like dealing, or even using drugs.

Falcon Fever

December 11th, 2009
10:46 am

I will still be at the dome tailgating so REAL FALCON FANS SHOW UP and support til the end….AND ALL YOU BANDWAGONER’S CAN GET OFF AT THE NEXT STOP TO NEXT YEAR LAND!!!!