The NFL has suspended umpire Roy Ellison for one game for using abusive language toward Washington offensive lineman Trent Williams on Sunday, and the NFL Referees Association is not happy about it.
In a statement released Friday evening, the NFLRA angrily denounced the decision and accused Williams of using abusive language and a racial slur toward Ellison.
“Roy Ellison is an accomplished 11 year veteran who is highly respected,” Michael Arnold, the NFLRA’s legal counsel, said in a statement. “The NFL imposed its judgment upon him without consideration of all the facts. The decision was arbitrary and unjustified and will be challenged with an immediate grievance.”
According to the NFLRA, what set Ellison off on Sunday was that Williams called him the N-word and the F-word. Williams has denied calling Ellison the N-word. Ellison and Williams are both African-American.
NFLRA Executive Director Jim Quirk said the league subjects the officials to hostility, and the officials are tired of it.
“The NFL’s decision to suspend Mr. Ellison creates a double standard for what is acceptable on field conduct,” Quirk said. “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. Music played in locker rooms and in the stadiums before games include racial slurs (including the N-word) and references to sexual violence with impunity. These types of cheap slurs and racial banter on the field often lead to angry and emotional responses which can result in fighting and injury. This is completely contrary to the atmosphere of sportsmanship and respect the League says should exist in the game.”
The officials are unhappy, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to resolve Ellison’s appeal. Which makes this statement from the officials unlikely to get the result they seek, of Ellison back on the field on Sunday.