Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes was caught on tape screaming at and threatening to beat up an official after Sunday’s game, and claiming that the official called Hughes a b—h. Although there has so far been no other information to corroborate or disprove Hughes’ allegations, the official in question has a history of such behavior.
According to multiple reports, the official Hughes screamed at was umpire Roy Ellison. And Ellison was suspended for a game in 2013 for using language the NFL described as “profane and derogatory” toward Washington offensive lineman Trent Williams. When Ellison was suspended, former head of officiating Mike Pereira said a previous incident had led to Ellison being warned that he needed to speak to players respectfully.
That puts a different twist on the story: Anyone inclined to give someone the benefit of the doubt in a he-said, he-said situation would likely give the benefit of the doubt to the person who doesn’t have a history of such actions. Hughes has no history of lobbing accusations against officials, but Ellison does have a history of swearing at players. Although Ellison has not spoken publicly about the incident with Williams in 2013, people speaking on Ellison’s behalf said he was reacting to Williams using the N-word toward him, a charge Williams denied. Ellison, Williams and Hughes are all African-American.
Ellison is considered one of the best umpires in the NFL. He was chosen to work the Super Bowl at the end of last season, an honor that goes to highly graded officials. But if he swore at Hughes after he’s already been suspended for swearing at another player, and warned about language toward players before that, then he doesn’t have the temperament to be an official.
Unlike most officials, Ellison is a full-time employee of the league. He could be out of a job if the NFL determines that Hughes told the truth.