Update (5:14 p.m.) with confirmation of William not be disciplined over incident
The NFL suspended an official for one game for using profanity in an exchange with Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams during a game last Sunday in Philadelphia.
Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications, wrote Friday on Twitter that umpire Roy Ellison had been suspended without pay for one game for making a “profane [and] derogatory statement to Trent Williams” during the game.
Ellison was not available to comment. Williams declined to comment.
The NFL will not discipline Williams for the incident, according to a person familiar with the league’s review. That decision is now final, according to that person.
The league issued a written statement that said: “Ellison will not work an NFL game this weekend. NFL game officials are expected to avoid personal confrontations with players and be respectful of players and coaches at all times. The NFL-NFLRA Collective Bargaining Agreement states that ‘at no time will a Game Official engage in any conduct which adversely affects or reflects on the NFL or which results in the impairment of public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of League games or the integrity or good character of its Game Officials.’ ”
Ellison is eligible to rejoin his officiating crew and work games the weekend of Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, according to the league’s statement.
Williams was accused Thursday by a diversity group that works with the NFL of directing a racial slur and profanity at Ellison. Williams denied using a slur and previously said that Ellison cursed at him during the game.
Williams said after the game Sunday that he had been verbally abused by Ellison, identifying the official by his jersey No. 81. Williams said that Ellison called him a “garbage [expletive], disrespectful [expletive].”
John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said Thursday that Ellison responded to a slur by Williams by directing a profanity at the Pro Bowl left tackle, although he mentioned a different profanity than the one cited by Williams. Wooten said that Ellison called Williams an “ungrateful [expletive].”
Wooten said in a telephone interview Thursday that Williams directed a profanity and a racial slur at Ellison after Ellison intervened to attempt to stop players from both teams from using abusive language at each other. Ellison responded with profanity aimed at Williams, Wooten said. Both Williams and Ellison are African-American.
“This is to the best of our knowledge,” Wooten said Thursday. “We haven’t talked to Roy. But we are told that the players, black and white, were saying all types of things back and forth during the game. Roy steps in and says, ‘Let’s stop this.’ Trent says to him, ‘[Expletive] you, N-word.’ By all rights, Roy should have thrown his flag there and said, ‘You’re gone.’ But he didn’t. He comes back at Trent with some bad language. Now Roy is wrong, too.”
Williams said Thursday that he “never directed any derogatory statement toward any referee.”
He also said Thursday at Redskins Park: “That’s absurd. If I ever said anything like that to a ref and he feels that strongly about the word, that’s at least an unsportsmanlike [conduct penalty]. Definitely wouldn’t just warrant a tongue-lashing from a guy that’s supposed to be the only neutral person on the field and not to feel either way about either team.
“There’s trash talk. Trash talk is trash talk. You get that in every sport.”
The Fritz Pollard Alliance issued a written statement Thursday urging NFL players “to stop using the ‘N’ word, especially after recent incidents in Washington and Miami.”
A person familiar with the situation said Thursday that the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s information had come from Ellison through Byron Boston, another African American NFL official. That person said that “no one in the league [office] seems to have a different view of the facts.”
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