The Washington Redskins placed Montae Nicholson on the reserve/non-football illness list Wednesday, ending the second-year safety’s season a day after he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault following an early-morning fight outside an Ashburn bar. He is not eligible to return to the active roster until after the Super Bowl.
Coach Jay Gruden had already said earlier in the day that Nicholson would miss Saturday’s game at Tennessee. The reserve list designation is not a suspension, but it would keep Nicholson off the field for the time being. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said Nicholson was placed on the list for “personal reasons.”
“We’re going to, obviously, go through and get all the details and figure out what to do next,” Gruden said before the designation was announced.
Nicholson, 23, and Sydney A. Maggiore, 24, were arrested and charged following an altercation with a man and a woman outside the World of Beer restaurant and bar in Ashburn, which is a short drive from the Redskins' practice facility. According to the Loudoun County police, Nicholson is accused of assaulting the man, and Maggiore is accused of striking the woman with a bottle, in addition to assaulting the man. The victims were taken to the hospital for treatment of serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Nicholson was also charged with public drunkenness, and his court date is set for Feb. 6. The assault charge is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to 12 months in jail.
The website TMZ published a video on Wednesday said to be of the fight involving Nicholson, which shows the person alleged to be Nicholson punching a man and appearing to knock him unconscious.
When asked Wednesday about the video, Gruden said that the Redskins would “take a look at all that stuff. Talk to Montae first. Look at the video and whatever’s out there. Obviously, [talk to] the police, and go from there.”
A bartender at World of Beer who served drinks to Nicholson, Maggiore and the two victims said that it did not appear as though the two couples knew each other, but that they appeared to exchange words as they were leaving the bar. The altercation took place shortly thereafter. The bartender spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe what happened without fear of repercussions at work.
In the Redskins' locker room Wednesday, Nicholson’s teammates spoke cautiously about the arrest, expressing support of Nicholson’s character but adding they didn’t know all the details of what happened.
“I don’t know what fully happened with that situation . . . but he was in a bad situation and I don’t know, really, who started it or whatever,” running back Chris Thompson said. “But it was just a tough situation for him to be in, and I think it was one of those situations that he really couldn’t or had a hard time backing himself out of. . . . We’ve just got to let this legal thing play itself out. But I know who he is as a player and a person, too. I know who he is. . . . Him, his girlfriend and his family, I just hope they can get through this and we can get down to the truth of everything.”
Kicker Dustin Hopkins said he would wait for more information to come out before forming any opinions.
“A lot of times we’ll get half stories, especially when things first happen.” Hopkins said. “I just wait it out to see how things actually unfolded, not just in Montae’s case, in anything. . . . Once you find out, you kind of make your judgment after that. But you hate to see anything like that happen to anybody.”
Nicholson’s arrest took place a few weeks after the Redskins were criticized for their decision to claim former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster off waivers. Foster had been released by the 49ers just two days earlier following a domestic violence arrest at the team’s hotel. The NFL placed Foster on the commissioner’s exempt list, which keeps him from practices and games while the league investigates.
Nicholson started seven games at safety but lost his starting job when the team acquired Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in a trade with the Green Bay Packers. Nicholson ended the 2017 season on injured reserve, after being drafted in the fourth round by Washington in 2017 out of Michigan State. He has 65 career tackles and three interceptions.
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