The NFL suspended umpire Roy Ellison without pay for one game for allegedly making a profane and derogatory statement to offensive lineman Trent Williams during the Washington Redskins' game Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, the league announced Friday.
The NFL issued a statement on its code of conduct for officials.
"NFL game officials are expected to avoid personal confrontations with players and be respectful of players and coaches at all times. The NFL-NFLRA collective bargaining agreement states that 'at no time will a game official engage in any conduct which adversely affects or reflects on the NFL or which results in the impairment of public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of league games or the integrity or good character of its game officials.'"
Michael Arnold, the National Football League Referees Association's legal counsel, said in a statement that the NFLRA would fight the decision.
"Roy Ellison is an accomplished 11-year veteran who is highly respected," Arnold 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."
Williams said Ellison cussed him out during a Redskins drive late in the first half, an accusation teammates backed. Williams said Ellison walked by him after a play and called him a "garbage-ass, disrespectful m-----f-----."
Williams said he wasn't sure why Ellison made the comment. When asked if he had been complaining about calls, Williams said, "I never disrespected him like he disrespected me."
According to sources, Williams was accused of using the N-word toward Ellison in last week's game. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, an influential group that promotes diversity and job equality in the NFL, came to the defense of Ellison after he'd been questioned and criticized for allegedly using racially tinged profanity toward Williams.
But the Alliance said Williams told Ellison "f--- you" and called him the N-word after Ellison warned him about using such profanities during the course of the game.
"The NFL's decision to suspend Mr. Ellison creates a double standard for what is acceptable on field conduct," NFLRA executive director Jim Quirk said in a statement. "The league insists that officials are held to a 'high standard' but others involved in the game are held to no standard."
Williams denied making any offensive comments to Ellison.
"I didn't say any derogatory statements to him," Williams said. "That still doesn't account for anything he said. No ref could ever say I used any language toward them. You've got to watch what you say to them. ... If I said it, why wait until I'm at the line to come back and say [what he did]?"
Williams also denied accusations of directing the N-word at Ellison, saying, "I laugh at that statement."
Ellison will be eligible to return in Week 13.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and ESPN.com Redskins reporter John Keim was used in this report.