Trent Williams accused NFL umpire Roy Ellison (seen here in 2009) of swearing at him during Sunday's game. (Mike Groll/AP)
After the Washington Redskins' 24-16 Sunday loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, Washington left tackle Trent Williams relayed to the media that he had been verbally abused by umpire Roy Ellison during the game.
“When you have a ref come up to while you’re at the line about to run a play and call you, excuse my language, but a ‘garbage-a-- disrespectful motherf-----,’ ” said Williams. “To me this is a player’s league. I just don’t think there’s no room for you to have to take that from the team and the refs. I think it’s very unprofessional and it sucks. I’m at a loss for words. You never expect that as a player going into a game to have to beef with the refs also.”
At that point in the locker room, Washington receiver Pierre Garcon told Williams to stop talking about the alleged incident before he got fined. Williams' response was that he hoped Ellison, who he identified by his uniform number (81) would be fined as well.
Guard Kory Lichtensteiger backed Williams' story, and said that he was miked up for the game. If Lichtensteiger's microphone has audio that confirms the incident, Ellison could obviously be in a lot of hot water. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post laid out what could be the play in question, late in the second quarter. After an Alfred Morris fumble was overturned on review with 3:51 left in the first half, the broadcast feed shows Ellison walking by Williams and saying something that caused Williams (71), tight end Niles Paul (84), and quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) to turn and look at him. Griffin turned to look as Williams and Paul kept staring at Ellison.
“I’ve never heard anything like that before in my life,” Lichtensteiger said. “I don’t know what it was, but that guy came out with some kind of vendetta. I don’t have a lot else to say, but I heard that comment.”
The NFL said that it would look into the incident, of course. But on Monday's FOX Football Daily show, former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira said that he had talked with Ellison about this specific problem before.
“What concerns me about this is I sat in the same chair that Dean Blandino, the Vice President of Officiating, is sitting in right now, with the same official, Roy Ellison, who years ago allegedly shouted and swore at players, and it was a big issue that I had to deal with,” Pereira said (via Pro Football Talk). “I actually had to talk with him in the office to make sure that none of this was going on. So the fact that it has happened twice now with the same individual has to concern the league, and I know they are taking a strong look at this.”
Pereira said that because there was no audio of the previous profanity, no action was taken against Ellison.
“When I had to deal with it, there was no proof, so it was a he said, she said. But something happened. And we did have a long conversation, Roy and I did, that we should never act like this as a football official on the field. And I said to him, ‘I don’t ever want to hear about this again.’”
Ellison, one of the NFL's few full-time officials, has been an umpire in the league since 2003. If Pereira, who generally excused his officials' mistakes to a fault when he was the league, is willing to come out with this story publicly, one wonders what kind of future Ellison has in pro football.
During his Monday press conference, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan recalled one other incident he could remember in which a game official engaged in language toward a player that could be considered profane or abusive.
"We had a few players that were involved with this one so it's a little bit unprecedented. One of our players - they [wore a microphone] and we'll find out if the NFL has any information on that. But I feel very strongly about the words that were used to our players because you have a number of players that said they heard it. So I'm disappointed in what had happened but that's probably all I can discuss at this point."