NFL Quarterback Fired For Missing Flight

Filed Under: Business Travel, Travel

Earlier this week the Houston Texans of the National Football League fired Ryan Mallet. What was his offense? Well, he missed a flight.

It turns out he was late to the team meeting on Saturday and then missed the team’s charter flight over to Miami, where they were to play the Dolphins. He apparently was able to catch a commercial flight and arrived later that day. He was active for the game, but the team started Brian Hoyer instead, and Mallet stayed on the bench.

Apparently the team wanted to sack him on Saturday, but decided it would be better to keep him around for the game on Sunday, rather than go into the game with only one true quarterback on the roster.


Then Monday rolled around.

Mallet showed up at the office. The boss told him his services weren’t needed anymore. The stated reason for release? Missing the team charter flight.

Now to be fair, this wasn’t his first offense. Apparently Mallet has somewhat of a habit of oversleeping and missing meetings and practices. But according to ESPN, he was changing his ways.

In a scene shown on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Mallett told Texans general manager Rick Smith that he missed practice because he overslept, but he had bought an alarm clock and nothing like that would ever happen again.

Perhaps he could borrow an alarm clock from one his fellow Texans?

Anyway, that all got me to thinking about whether missing a flight is cause for dismissal, particularly given that he actually arrived in time for the game. I mean, many of us here fly for work all the time. It’s not uncommon to miss a flight now and then.

Heck, I know a few guys who say that if you don’t miss a flight or two per year, you’re not doing it right — the logic is that if you never miss a flight, you are getting to the airport too early and wasting a lot of valuable time.

Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever missed a flight for work, or otherwise. I guess Ben and I share that German heritage — even if mine is a few centuries removed from the motherland– which causes us to break out in hives at the thought of being late for something.

I may not have the passport on the right, but I still can't be late....
I may not have the passport on the right, but I still can’t be late….

But I certainly have colleagues who have missed flights, sometimes spectacularly. Jimmy, for example, missed his flight because he left his passport in the hotel safe and didn’t realize it until he was already at the airport.

Jared just arrived at the airport late because he mistimed traffic.

Jimmy got lucky and was able to get reaccommodated on a later flight for free due to his 1K status with United. Jared wasn’t so lucky. He ended up buying a ticket out of his own pocket on another airline, because United didn’t have any more flights to his destination that day.

Both of them ultimately made it to their destinations in time for the meeting. Neither of them were fired.

Is missing a flight cause for termination?

Like my colleagues, Mallett seemed to make it to the critical event of the business trip. I’m also sort of assuming that he paid for the commercial ticket out of his own pocket, which is more symbolic than anything else, given his inflated salary ($1.75 million) and the resources of his employer. It still shows some level of responsibility for his actions.

And of course, the big question is, did he trust United to actually get him somewhere on time? (Or was he able to redeem 7,500 Avios for a last minute award ticket on American?)


Then again, Mallett wasn’t exactly lighting it up on the field. You might say his greatest offense was his lack of offense. And truth be told, that ‘s probably what did him in. I’m guessing that Tom Brady could miss the team flight for the entire season and still be given the opportunity to deflate his balls. 

It’s probably telling that the Texans are now starting a quarterback which my Cleveland Browns didn’t even bother to re-sign. Face it folks, if you can’t beat out a castoff from the Browns, you probably aren’t long for the league.

Ryan Mallett
Ryan Mallett

I guess it boils down to whether Mallet should be held to a higher standard than most of us because he gets paid a lot of money to play a game for a living. There’s often a lot of talk about how athletes are coddled, but this seems to be one case where an athlete might actually be getting treated worse than those of us in the real world.

What do you think? Is missing a flight cause for termination? Or was he just not getting the job done and this was a convenient excuse? 

And finally, who do you think should pay if you miss a flight on a business trip? Do you pay for it out of pocket, or bill it to your employer?

  1. A perfectly acceptable reason to fire him. I’m sure there were many other reasons, but its the NFL not some random job. The team travels together and has the quarterback he is supposed to lead the team. If he constantly does this stuff it sets a bad example and encourages others on the team to lose discipline. Without discipline at that level games are lost and these guys get paid a huge amount of money. If he can’t make it to the plane and every single other person on the team did, what does that really say about him and his work ethic? By the way he is guaranteed $1.75 million for this year and he was the backup. There are other backups who could do the same job and can do it better and this guy never felt like a team player at all.

  2. Why don’t you just stick to avaiation news rather than this rubbish article. I wish I hadn’t bothered wasting my time reading this drivel.

  3. @Sam
    I don’t know why you bothered to read this “drivel” as the title and snippet on the home page gave a pretty clear idea of what you were going to be in for…

  4. I’ve missed a flight before (TSA’s fault, not mine, I swear! :)) and my employer covered the cost of rebooking. But I think that if I had demonstrated a pattern of irresponsibility by missing so many, they would probably “release” me just the same.

  5. Seriously, Travis your contribution to this blog actually drives people away.

    Clearly, you’re 1) not a football fan 2) barely even a travel blogger.

    Maybe you and Mallet should join the same boat together

  6. Great post Travis, thanks!

    Only ever missed a flight once, I guess my employer indirectly paid as I was rebooked for free but had to fly into a different city and drive a rental to my destination to make the event at which I was the keynote speaker. About $100 extra for the one-way rental.

  7. Mallett has been terrible this season so i believe missing the flight was just a good excuse to cut him loose. If Aaron Rodgers missed a flight i’m sure the Packers woudl have chartered a plane for him to get to his destination.

  8. @Sam –

    1. Read first three paragraphs – 30 seconds (max).
    2. Decide if you want to continue.
    3. … I guess that’s all.

    If the writer hasn’t caught you in the first few lines, then either they’re a mediocre writer or the article isn’t targeted at you. Don’t read it.

    If you care enough about the site to want to send a message to the owner of the blog, then make it polite (“hey guys, I’ve been reading since 2010 and this kind of article doesn’t appeal to me. I want to see more on xyz”).

    Beyond that, it’s either kind of meaningless, or deliberately provocative.

  9. Your lead is extremely misleading. He wasn’t released just for missing a flight. He’s repeatedly missed or been late to team practices and meetings. Sure, this is the first trip he’s missed with the team, but if you’ve never been a part of a team/group, then you wouldn’t understand and be able to convey the importance placed on being together and acting as a cohesive unit. He has proven himself to be lazy and immature throughout his college and now professional career, and this was just the last straw.

  10. GoBlueTwo — Ask yourself this, if Mallett hadn’t missed that flight, would he be a member of the Texans today? Yes. That seems to me that he was fired for missing the flight. Were there extenuating circumstances? Sure, and I addressed those.

    Do a quick google and you’ll see that much of the sports universe has a similar headline.

    All that said, based on your handle, I’m guessing you have a long history of watching Mallett struggle clear back to his time at TUN.

  11. A) The texans have probably been looking for an excuse to get rid of this guy anyway.

    B) there’s more to being an NFL player than just showing up for the game. They’re “on the clock” more than just three hours a week.

  12. Chuck —

    Yes, clearly, playing pro sports is a JOB, that requires more hours on the clock — at least during the season — than us 9-5’ers. That said, it’s not clear that missing the charter and flying commercial, in this one instance, actually caused him to miss a team activity. Did he miss the walk-through at the hotel? Did he miss player meetings?

    And yes, I acknowledged that they were looking for a reason, and this provided it.

  13. Travis, as a owner of an airlines, you have a Captain that has been late for his flights as Mallelt was late for his practices (which BTW was MANY times) and missed his flight with HIS team, would you want that Captain to flying for your airline?

  14. As a union employee, regardless of the true motive for the release, it’s all about what’s in the contract. Let’s see what the grievance shakes out.

  15. If he was a good player that could help them get to the Super Bowl, he would not have been fired for missing a flight.

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