LANDOVER, Md. - Standing outside the Washington Redskins' locker room at Fed Ex Field just after their 34-19 defeat at the hands of the New York Jets, media members had to wait longer than usual to be let in for interviews. Too long, in fact. Unbeknownst to them at the time, offensive tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis were being discreetly escorted out of the stadium, surrounded by security guards, with their lips tightly sealed.
Just prior to the game, reports began to surface about their four-game suspension for allegedly failing multiple NFL drug tests after the lockout. After the delay, the locker room opened. To no one's surprise, Williams and Davis were nowhere to be found, and it was their teammates that were left to explain yet another off-field drama, one that they desperately needed to avoid.
But surveying the Redskins locker room looking for substantive analysis as to why two of their best offensive players would let them down was a difficult exercise. As expected, most deflected questions, stating they did not know much about the situation and didn't want to comment much on it.
Some, however, did give honest takes on the matter.
"Guys have got to be accountable," said special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander. "It's a shame. These are two significant players on our team."
It's true that, for a team struggling to consistently put points up on the scoreboard, losing their best offensive lineman and best skill position player won't help things on offense the rest of the way.
But while the suspensions of Williams and Davis certainly have football ramifications the final four games of this season, it's the fact that this franchise has managed to find itself in more trouble that is most disconcerting. This isn't just something the media is trying to drum up in order milk a particular storyline. This is a case of two legitimate building blocks for the future making poor decisions that not only hurt themselves, but do damage to their team as a whole. Needless to say, they have to know better.
"People make mistakes," said defensive tackle Barry Cofield. "All we can do is move on"
The problem is, moving on might not be so simple for the Redskins.
For one, Davis' contract ends at the end of the season. His actions will make the Redskins decision to re-sign him to a multi-year contract much more difficult, which is a shame considering most believed it to be a no-brainer that they'd bring back their leading receiver for next year and beyond.
As for Williams, he was beginning to show signs of a consistent NFL left tackle before his suspension, having solid performances against the Cowboys, Seahawks and Jets. He had even earned the trust and respect of his teammates by being named a captain just a few weeks ago. But with this suspension, his second season in the pros ends with a thud, halting any progress he could have made in his final four games.
"[Me and Trent] talk all the time," said fellow tackle Jamaal Brown. "That's why hearing this from [the media], I don't know if I should believe it or not. But everybody is saying [it's true], so I guess it's true. I haven't talked to him."
If the reports are true, Davis and Williams failed multiple drug tests after the lockout, an offense that usually yields a year-long suspension. They are lucky there was a grace period for one of those failed test; otherwise this could have been even worse. And if there's another suspension? They won't escape the full-year suspension that time.
The Redskins chose to wait this one out until the league officially notified the team of the suspension, so the public won't get to find out the answer to what everyone wants to know: what were they thinking?
"We're informed [about substance abuse policies]," Cofield said. "We got player reps and people like that that inform us."
If that's the case, then two players who most fans believe will be in D.C. for a long time will have a lot of explaining to do.