Each player has failed at least three drug tests since he entered the league, according to one league source, including two test failures since the lockout ended in July. Williams already has accepted his suspension, according to another person familiar with the case, and Davis is expected to accept this week. Because their season-ending suspensions are part of a settlement, neither is expected to appeal, one person said.
Neither Williams nor Davis was made available to comment in the Redskins’ locker room following Sunday’s loss. The two left the stadium in street clothes and did not respond to questions from a reporter.
Spokesmen for the league and the union declined to comment Sunday, and Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said he’d “received no information” about the suspensions. “But I will comment on it in the next day or two,” he said, “depending on what has happened.”
According to people familiar with the settlement, Davis, a fourth-year tight end, and Williams, a second-year offensive tackle, were part of a group of 11 players who failed tests for recreational drugs — believed to be marijuana — shortly after reporting for training camp in late July. The league and the union have been negotiating the fate of that group since August, mainly attempting to decide whether the NFL would grant those players a “grace period” because of the four-month lockout that halted league activities during the offseason.
Under terms of the settlement, nine of the 11 players will face no punishment for their failed tests during training camp. Davis and Williams, however, face suspensions because they later failed another drug test after the regular season began in September, according to those familiar with the deal.
Under terms of the league’s substance abuse program, a player with three failed tests for recreational drugs is usually subject to a year-long suspension from the NFL. Because one of the offenses came during the so-called grace period, the union negotiated the suspension down to four games, the typical punishment for a second offense.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, worked personally on the settlement. The two sides agreed in principle to the deal Saturday. Sports Illustrated first reported the news Sunday afternoon.