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Fred Davis celebrates Washington's first touchdown. News broke shortly after kickoff that Davis would face a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Accountability has been a buzzword thrown around quite a bit in reference to DC sports teams lately. The Capitals couldn’t discover it until it was too late for Bruce Boudreau, and Fred Davis and Trent Williams forgot all about it on Sunday.
Following a loss to the New York Jets, Williams and Davis snuck out from FedEx Field before speaking to the media, thus avoiding questions regarding their suspensions for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Both players will be suspended for the final four games of the season after their third violation of this policy.
And frankly, I can’t decide whether the infraction or their mad dash for the exit was worse. Williams and Davis are two of the team’s offensive cornerstones and are doing themselves and the Redskins a disservice by repeatedly ignoring the rules at the expense of the team, the fans and themselves.
Making it even worse was the failure to own up to their mistakes publicly on Sunday. The silence is not indicative of their feelings on the issue, but it does cast them in an even more unfavorable light.
Williams in particular has been on the wrong end of several costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for late hits, and is beginning to gain a reputation as hothead. There’s no denying his ability as a player, but his decision-making hasn’t been in Washington’s best interests this season.
Mike Shanahan drafted Williams in 2010 with a top-five draft pick to anchor the offensive line for years to come. With those high expectations came pressure to perform both on and off the field. According to Shanahan, the second-year pro has improved in every game this season, but maturity issues have now overshadowed what could have been a step in the right direction for Williams.
Davis was in the midst of a breakout campaign with 59 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns. Now not only is his future with team in question, but also the big contract he was likely to receive this offseason for emerging as one of the better receiving tight ends in the league.
Instead of a huge payday, Davis made a set of short-sighted and selfish decisions to completely destroy the good will he had amassed this season. You expect more from a veteran player who had spoken at the beginning of the year about taking a more serious approach in his preparation, but Davis clearly doesn’t have football as his number one priority.
That’s a major problem in need of rectification. The Redskins are attempting to right the ship by creating a culture that embraces professionalism and winning. These mistakes – repeated by Williams and Davis multiple times – don’t reflect such an atmosphere, which is a shame considering the high level of character displayed by so many other players on the roster.
This is a blemish that will affect the team both on and off the field for quite some time. Perhaps the effects will resonate with Davis and Williams, serving as the wakeup call needed to get them refocused on achieving success. Yet given their track record, odds are they’ll try and take the easy way out.
And that’s a real shame.