Diversity group says Trent Williams ‘directed racial epithets’ at Eagles player or players

November 25, 2013
Fritz Pollard Alliance says Redskins' Trent Williams (above, 71) used racial slurs at an Eagles player or players during Nov. 17 game (Tim Sharp/Associated Press) Fritz Pollard Alliance says Redskins’ Trent Williams (above, 71) used racial slurs at an Eagles player or players during Nov. 17 game (Tim Sharp/Associated Press)

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, the diversity group that has accused Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams of using a profanity and a racial slur at an official during a recent game, says that Williams also “directed racial epithets” at a Philadelphia Eagles player or players during that Nov. 17 game between the two teams.

The allegation was made in a letter from the group’s counsel, D.C. attorney Cyrus Mehri, to Jeff Pash, the NFL’s general counsel and executive vice president. In the letter, the Fritz Pollard Alliance asks the NFL to more strictly enforce an existing rule prohibiting players from using abusive language at officials or opponents during games.

Related: All Insider posts involving Trent Williams | Disputes with NFL game officials

“The incident involving Trent Williams in week 11 illustrates how implementation of [that rule] should be enhanced going forward,” Mehri wrote to Pash. “We understand that Mr. Williams directed racial epithets to one or more opposing players and instead of heeding the warnings by Umpire Roy Ellison, he turned to Mr. Ellison and said ‘[expletive] you, N-word.’ We believe that situation warranted a penalty, if not an ejection.  In our view, if Game Day officials are empowered – and encouraged – to treat the use of racial epithets as grounds for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, future incidents of this nature are far less likely.”

John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said in telephone interviews last week that Ellison intervened to attempt to halt the use of abusive language between Redskins and Eagles players. But the specific allegation that Williams directed racial slurs at an Eagles player or players had not been made.

Williams was not immediately available to comment prior to the Redskins’ game Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers at FedEx Field. Williams has denied directing a racial slur at Ellison.

The NFL Referees Association also has accused Williams of saying, “[Expletive] you, N-word” to Ellison.

Both Williams and Ellison are African American.

The NFL suspended Ellison for one game without pay Friday for making a profane and derogatory statement to Williams. The NFLRA criticized the suspension and announced Friday that it would challenge it with a grievance.

Williams said after the game that Ellison had called him a “garbage [-expletive], disrespectful [expletive].”

Wooten said last week that Ellison, in response to Williams’s profanity and slur, called Williams an “ungrateful [expletive].” Wooten said last week that the league’s suspension of Ellison was justified but the NFL needed to scrutinize Williams’s role in the incident further. Wooten said last week that Ellison was wrong to respond profanely to Williams rather than penalizing or ejecting him.

It is not yet clear when Ellison’s grievance will be heard and resolved.

The league did not discipline Williams for the incident, according to a person with knowledge of the case.

Mehri, in his letter to Pash, cited an NFL rule prohibiting “abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, officials, teammates, or representatives of the League” and wrote: “We believe the League should authorize Game Day officials to use graduated discipline with warnings, 15-yard penalties and ejections as appropriate.”

Mehri wrote to Pash: “NFL players are among the hardest working young men in this country, courageously trying to win games for their teams and fans. However, there is no valor in using racial epithets. There is no competitive edge gained by directing racial epithets at other players and there is no excuse for directing such epithets at Game Day officials. It just diminishes the game and everyone involved in it.”

Update, 6:55 p.m.

Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications, said in a written statement in response to the letter: “Our game officials have the authority to enforce penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct as defined in the rule book.”

For in-game updates, analysis, photos and the best of social media, plus a place to talk with fellow Redskins fans, visit our live blog, from two hours before kickoff through the post-game news conferences.

What’s ahead:

● Redskins vs. 49ers kickoff is at 8:25 p.m.

More on the Redskins:

Redskins vs. 49ers: Q&A with Jarvis Jenkins | | Five story lines Notes & facts

Game crucial to Shanahan’s future? | Griffin and Kaepernick each struggling 

49ers’ Brooks, son of ex-Redskin Perry, returns home | Poll: Who you got tonight?

D.C. Sports Bog: Redskins’ historically bad field position | More

FedEx Field’s new sod makes debut | Davis, Morgan back in the mix

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Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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