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Redskins tackle Trent Williams accused of using a racial slur at official

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner


The incident between Redskins tackle Trent Williams and game official Roy Ellison last week has taken an ugly turn.

John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that promotes diversity in NFL hiring, told the Washington Post that Williams directed a racial slur at Ellison during Sunday's game against Philadelphia. That led to Ellison insulting Williams with a profanity, something that Williams blasted Ellison for after the game.

(UPDATE: The NFL has suspended Ellison for one game without pay for using a "profane and derogatory statement" directed at Williams.)


“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,” Wooten said told he Post. “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 told the Post he never used a slur, or "directed any derogatory statement" at Ellison. Both men are black.

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There is regular chatter between players and officials on the field, but it rarely goes over the line. There is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for, "Using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, or representatives of the League." Ellison could have thrown a flag on Williams if he did insult him with a slur, and Williams used the fact that Ellison didn't penalize him as part of his denial.

"If I ever said anything like that to a ref and he feels that strongly about the word, that’s at least an unsportsmanlike [penalty]," Williams told the Post.

The incident will be another piece of the discussion about the slur being used in the NFL.

Richie Incognito, who is white, used the term in a voicemail to fellow Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, setting off a controversy about the use of the word. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson shared this week that he hears that word (and much crazier things) used in the locker room all the time.

Apparently it is being used on the field a lot as well. The Fritz Pollard Alliance put out a statement saying the use of the racial slur has become common in NFL games and it called upon players to stop using it.

“A number of game day officials have brought to our attention the disturbing trend of racial epithets, including the ‘N’ word, being commonly used on the field during games,” the organization said in a statement, according to the Post. “. . . While we understand and respect that different generations have different means of communicating, we cannot condone on any level the use of the ‘N’ word.”

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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