A grievance hearing for suspended NFL game official Roy Ellison has not been scheduled for this weekend, according to a person with knowledge of the case.
That means that Ellison’s one-game suspension without pay by the league, imposed Friday for “making a profane and derogatory statement” to Washington Redskins tackle Trent Williams during a game last Sunday at Philadelphia, remains in effect for this weekend’s games, according to the person familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details of the process were not announced publicly.
It appears that any future grievance hearing for Ellison would determine whether his lost pay would be restored.
The NFL Referees Association criticized the suspension in a written statement issued Friday and announced that it would challenge Ellison’s suspension with “an immediate grievance.”
Both the NFLRA and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a diversity group that works with the NFL to promote diversity in hiring, have accused Williams of using a profanity and a racial slur directed at Ellison during the game.
Williams has denied that he used a racial slur.
John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said in telephone interviews this week that Williams said, “[Expletive] you, N-word” to Ellison after Ellison intervened to attempt to stop Redskins and Eagles players from using abusive language toward each other. Ellison responded to the profanity and slur by calling Williams an “ungrateful [expletive],” according to Wooten.
Wooten said Friday that the league’s suspension of Ellison was justified but the NFL needed to scrutinize Williams’s role in the incident further.
“There no way Roy would have said that just randomly, said this to Trent without being provoked,” Wooten said Friday. “Now, that doesn’t excuse what [Ellison] said. But players should not have the right to say whatever they want to say to an official.”
Williams said after the game Sunday that Ellison had called him a “garbage [-expletive], disrespectful [expletive].”
Both Williams and Ellison are African American. The NFLRA likewise alleged that Williams said, “[Expletive] you, N-word” to Ellison.
“The NFL’s decision to suspend Mr. Ellison creates a double standard for what is acceptable on field conduct,” Jim Quirk, the NFLRA’s executive director, said in Friday’s written statement. “The League insists that Officials are held to a ‘high standard’ but others involved in the game are held to no standard. Apparently the NFL accepts and condones a culture where players, coaches and teams can use racial slurs and profanity toward each other and at Officials.”
Williams was not disciplined by the league for the incident, according to a person with knowledge of the deliberations.
The NFL declined to respond late Friday to the criticisms of Wooten and the NFLRA. Wooten has acknowledged that Ellison, a veteran umpire, erred by responding profanely to Williams rather than penalizing or ejecting him.
The league reviewed the incident and announced Friday that Ellison would not work a game this weekend. He is eligible to rejoin his officiating crew and resume working games next weekend, according to the league. It is not clear when a grievance hearing would take place.
“NFL game officials are expected to avoid personal confrontations with players and be respectful of players and coaches at all times,” the league said in its written statement Friday announcing the suspension.
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.
More on the Redskins:
Jason Reid: RGIII must look inward to address criticism