Asked later about his outburst, Hughes said it was related to the Bills’ loss and distanced himself from it.
“Who did? I did? I did what? . . . What did I say? If I did go up to the official, what did I say?” he replied when asked about the incident. “Okay, I’d love to see the video.”
The NFL Referees Association said it expects Ellison will be cleared and said that Hughes, not Ellison, was in the wrong. “Video from last week’s game shows [Ellison] was verbally threatened by a player who has a well-documented history of abusive language and inappropriate actions towards our officials,” the group’s executive director, Scott Green, said in a statement. “While we are disappointed that the NFL has yet to address that aspect of the incident, we look forward to working with the league during its review and will ensure that Roy’s rights are protected during this process.”
Ellison was suspended for one game without pay for allegedly making a “profane and derogatory statement” to Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams in 2013. In announcing that suspension, the league said in a statement that “NFL game officials are expected to avoid personal confrontations with players and be respectful of players and coaches at all times.”
Williams said that he had been verbally abused by Ellison, identifying the official by his jersey No. 81 and claiming that Ellison called him a “garbage [expletive], disrespectful [expletive].” An organization that works with the NFL to promote racial diversity accused Williams of directing a profanity and racial slur at Ellison during the encounter. Williams said he did not use a racial slur. Both men are African American.
According to Pro Football Talk, Ellison also has been warned about using abusive language with players. He is regarded as one of the best officials in the league and worked Super Bowl LII in February.