Redskins suspensions: Another season up in smoke?
By Tracee Hamilton,
No shots at Rex Grossman today, or the Shanahans, or the play-calling, or Graham Gano. They all get a pass today. This season is a bust, and while Sunday’s loss to the Jets was sudden and puzzling in some ways, it was far from inexplicable. Not if you’ve been paying attention.
What is inexplicable, to me, is the expected suspensions of Fred Davis and Trent Williams for four games, which amounts to the rest of the season. They earned these punishments not for helmet-to-helmet hits or stomping on an opponent or firearms incidents or any of the other actions we previously thought were the dumbest things an NFL player could do to fritter away his money, hurt his team and insult his fans.
No, Davis and Williams have set the bar higher. They reportedly failed not one, not two, but three drug tests. For recreational drug use — marijuana, according to reports.
Eleven players tested positive for a recreational drug, believed to be marijuana, shortly after camps opened this summer. Nine of those players will face no punishment because due to the lockout, they were given a “grace period.” Davis and Williams would have avoided punishment as well — except they tested positive again, after the season began. That gave Davis and Williams three strikes, and three strikes normally means a year-long suspension.
But the union negotiated with Roger Goodell and kept them from that fate on a technicality: One of the failed tests came during the so-called grace period.
(When you’re listing all the reasons a professional athlete’s life is better than yours, be sure to add “grace period” to the list. Oh, and no matter what your feelings are on legalizing marijuana, the fact is — right now, here — it’s not legal. Of course, it does have its medical uses, but I don’t think those include knee injuries and ankle sprains. One thing is certain: We can see it has no palliative value in treating stupidity.)
You can argue the absence of Davis and Williams isn’t really hurting the Redskins, whose final four games mean nothing in terms of the playoffs. Heck, maybe it will even help the team’s draft position. So what’s the harm?
If Washington fans are reduced to that kind of thinking, I guess I can’t blame them. This has been another miserable season in a series of miserable seasons.
But it’s one thing to be a bad football team and another to be a joke. When two of your very best players on offense are suspended for sparking up during the season — knowing that they’d been caught before, knowing the risk — that doesn’t say much for your franchise. That doesn’t say much for your leadership, except that apparently you are lacking it.
Williams was drafted fourth overall in 2010, the first pick made in the Bruce Allen-Mike Shanahan era. Davis, a second-rounder two years earlier, was headed toward a 1,000-yard season, in part because of Chris Cooley’s injuries but in part because he has found a way to shine in the Shanahans’ offense. Other than perhaps John Beck, it’s hard to imagine two players on offense who have benefited more from the new regime than Williams, who got rich off it, and Davis, who was becoming a star under it.
Well, they’ve got an interesting way of saying “thank you.” We’ll see how well they do with “I’m sorry.”