Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan reserved comment Sunday and Monday on the suspensions of tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams, saying he had yet to receive official word from the NFL on the matter.
The coach learned on Tuesday that the league had officially suspended both players for the remainder of the season without pay for failing multiple drug tests. He spoke on the issue for the first time Wednesday.
The transcript of his press conference follows:
Now having received official word on the suspensions, what are your thoughts?
“It’s always disappointing when you lose two of your better football players for the rest of the season. I talked to both of them this morning, they spoke to our football team, which I know you’re aware of. They’re obviously very disappointed in their decision, as we are. I’m disappointed in their decision to do what they did, and obviously, I talked to them about it.”
Did he ask them to speak to the team?
“No, I didn’t. They wanted to. I talked to them a little bit on Monday and they asked me what I thought. I said, ‘Well first of all, I’m not sure if you’re allowed to do it, through the NFL. I’ll find out if that’s possible or not. I think it’d be smart for you to do it.’ Everybody’s accountable. Everybody’s got a job to do, and when you can’t fulfill your obligation, it’s a disappointment, and they’ll pay the consequences, and so will we as a team.”
Is he concerned about the players’ futures with the Redskins following the suspensions?
“Any time someone makes a decision and they’re suspended like they are, they’ve got to prove themselves. I can’t say one way or the other. What are they going to do for the future? Time will tell. It’s just like drafts. Do you have a good draft? You really don’t know for three, four, five years sometimes. Is someone going to be a great? Some people have the ability to be a great player. But you don’t always know how that’s going to turn out. We know about their athletic ability. We talked about the bad decision they made. Are they smart enough to go down the right path? I’m hoping they do. They’ve both got a lot at stake. Time will tell.”
With Davis being a free agent, and one more failed test meaning he’s suspended for a whole year, how does that impact his status?
“That’s why when you do make decisions, you make them based on the information you have at hand, and do what you think is right.”
The report was that they failed a test at the end of the lockout and then failed a test during the season. When did you find out?
“When we find out as an organization is when they start taking paychecks away from them, and if they make a mistake after that, they’re suspended. We found out when they took paychecks away from them. When they started taking checks, if you do keep going, you’ll be suspended, and that’s what happened.”
When that happened, knowing the next time is a four-game suspension, how involved was the team in making sure this doesn’t happen again?
“First off, you talk to different people, but you’re not with them 24-hours a day. They’re going to make decisions, and you hope that the decisions they make are the best decisions for them, decisions that are in the best interest for the organization, for the Washington Redskins. They represent us. Everyone in this organization represents the Washington Redskins logo. When they get suspended like that, it’s disappointing to the whole organization, it’s disappointing for the accountability to their teammates to be there through thick and thin. When that happens, there’s not really anything you can say other than, ‘I screwed up.’ And they were men enough today to talk in front of the team, and they said, ‘Hey, I did screw up, and I promise you it won’t happen again.’ Now we’ll find out in the future if they’re true to their word.”
Does the team require them to go through counseling?
“Once it happens the first time, they have counseling all the time. That’s an on-going process. First-stage, second-stage, third-stage.”
You preach the importance of high-character players. Having drafted Trent Williams, do you feel personally let down?
“I think the whole team feels let down. There’s no question about it. Everybody should feel let down. Everybody’s accountable for what they do. You put the team first. It’s simple like that. Like I said, people make mistakes. I like the way Trent has handled himself from the first year to the second year. I like the way he’s went about his business. He had his best game last weekend. So he’s getting better and better. But that still doesn’t take away from the decisions he made. Like I said, hopefully in the future, he makes the right decisions. It takes one time. One more time and he’s gone for the year. So we’ll find out very quickly if he’s going down the right path.
Phillip Buchanon wasn’t allowed to be here during his suspension. Why are Davis and Williams allowed to be at the complex during theirs?
“I can’t tell you. They just gave us the ability to do that. We found out at 4, 4:30 and they hadn’t had a chance to talk to the football team and we were happy and willing for them to do it.”
Will they be here the next four weeks?
“Right now, this is a new CBA, and I can’t say for sure. I’ve heard a couple different reports. I’ll tell you the next couple days for sure.”
Would he want them around if they have the ability to be around?
“Sure I would.”
You had players suspended in Denver. How quickly did you find out if those players had turned things around or if it was a lost cause?
“You don’t know. You really don’t know. But you sit down and talk to players, and you say, ‘Hey, what direction are you going to go with your life? This is not football. You’re making a commitment to somebody. Once you make a commitment to somebody, it doesn’t take long to find out if your word means anything. People do make mistakes. I’ve seen guys come back from this and [they’re] fine for the rest of their career. They don’t even stumble. I’ve had other guys who are out of the league within two, three months. You just don’t know what type of problem they have, and the question about counseling and helping people and those types of things is available, and hopefully they take advantage of it.”
Did you say those type of things to them when you first learned they had failed drug tests?
“You know, I’m not going to go through my conversations with these guys. They’re very personal, but we did talk in detail and had a great conversation with both guys. I told them how disappointed I was, and they understood that. And I’m hoping that they go in the right direction, because I really believe in both of these guys. They’re very good people and made a couple bad decisions.”
How surprising was it that they didn’t learn from their first failed tests?
Did they express remorse to you?
“Oh yes. Very much so.”
You have a commitment to Trent long-term, but Fred is unsigned for next year. Does this change your thinking on Fred at all?
“Well, I think you asked me that the first question you just asked me. I said we’ll take that as part of the evaluation process. We’ll see what direction Fred’s going in. I can’t get into a lot of detail, but any contract that anybody would sign somebody to, knowing that with one failed test that they could be gone just like that, they’re going to protect themselves in the contract and it will be based on performance and based on [staying on] the straight and narrow.”
Does the risk of losing Williams at any time cause you to have to build the line differently going forward?
“Well, you could lose somebody at any time – to a sprained ankle, to a knee. I look at this as two guys hurt themselves, and now we’re going to have guys step up and see who gets the job done. No excuses. You know, when you lose guys during the season – we lost two guys to something a little bit different other than an injury, but as a football team, there is no excuses. You lose people and you go on. We expect the rest of our football team to step up and play at a certain level, and for these guys that are backing them up to show us they can play in the National Football League and can play at a very high level.”
Do you have full confidence that they have the mental makeup and the whatnot to do the right thing from here on out, or is there a lot of questions in your mind?
“Well, let me kind of try to answer. I thought of answering it a couple times. Any time somebody makes a mistake, and they’re remorseful, you’re hoping they are. You’re hoping they learned from their mistake. Did they? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s time. We will find out in time. Am I hoping they both do? Yeah, because I like both of them. They’re good people. They work extremely hard. They made a bad decision, and we’ll find out in time. I’m pulling for them because I like them both. I like them personally. I like their work ethic. I like how they go about their business. Am I disappointed in them? Big time. Yeah. Because they affect not only themselves, but this whole organization and their teammates, and that’s a bad decision. They know they put us in a heck of a position, not even talking about themselves and what it means to them and their future.”
More on the suspensions: