Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams likes his nickname, Silverback, so much that he convinced Roger Goodell to use it when calling his name at last year’s NFL draft. But John Thompson Jr., the former Georgetown basketball coach who now has a radio show in Washington, D.C., does not like the nickname.
When Williams was a guest on Thompson’s show, Thompson told Williams that he was concerned about racial overtones with the term.
“How about that Silverback stuff?” Thompson said. “Come on with that. Trent, do you know how many white folks we had to curse at and fuss at that called us monkeys?”
Williams responded, “I understand. But I just feel like this day and age, we’re trying to move past that.”
The 69-year-old Thompson told the 23-year-old Williams that the generational difference between the two of them may explain why they would react differently to a black man being referred to as “Silverback.”
“I’m glad as hell that you’re comfortable with that, and I know your reference does not imply what was implied years ago,” Thompson said. “But you can understand an old man’s interpretation of it. But let’s talk football. We’re gonna talk alone. You and I, we’ve got to talk by ourself about the Silverback stuff, boy.”
Considering that Williams recently spent tens of thousands of dollars on an enormous piece of jewelry commemorating the Silverback name, it’s probably safe to say he won’t be persuaded to stop using it.