- - Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Washington Redskins have many weaknesses as an organization and, presumably, some strengths, too. But you won’t find “good judgment” on the latter list.

In matters large and small, Washington routinely exhibits worst practices, consistently veering opposite of the approach used by well-run NFL franchises. The unsound methodology is revealed on and off the field, including player relations, employee relations, community relations and media relations.

Now the ineptness has touched a tragedy.


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Safety Montae Nicholson had not played in three weeks as an ankle injury sidelined him against Minnesota and Buffalo before Washington went on its bye. But there he was Sunday, dressed and ready to go against the New York Jets. He played on 70 of 71 snaps, and only Jonathan Bostic and Cole Holcomb recorded more tackles than Nicholson’s five.

Except every defensive player should’ve had more tackles than Nicholson. He should’ve been in street clothes. He didn’t belong on the field just a few days after taking a woman to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead from a suspected drug overdose at his house.



“It was ultimately his decision to play,” interim coach Bill Callahan said Monday. “It’s always a player’s decision whether they’re ready to play or not. He was physically ready to play and he wanted to play, so that was strictly his decision and he had the freedom to make that decision.”

He had the freedom only because the team made a bad decision. By leaving the choice to Nicholson, Washington abdicated its responsibility and did a disservice to him, to 21-year-old Julia Crabbe and to her grieving family.

Mourning is a personal process that’s done in various ways for various people. One person might cry inconsolably while another seems emotionless. Some throw themselves into activities while others stay still. Different strokes.

Circumstances can vary, too, just like expressions of grief.

Last week, Michigan State guard Cassius Winston was given the option of sitting out a game against Binghamton, less than 24 hours after his brother intentionally stepped in front of a train and was killed. Winston played through his broken heart and finished with a team-high 17 points and 11 assists.ac

No one would’ve thought twice if Winston chose to not play, and no one could argue against giving him the choice.

In 2017, just one day after his sister was tragically killed in a car accident, Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 33 points for the Boston Celtics in a playoff game against the Chicago Bulls. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Thomas had the freedom to do “whatever he needs to do,” leaving the decision completely in the player’s hands.

Conversely, Washington erred by putting the determination in Nicholson’s hands because his part in Crabbe’s death is under investigation.

This is not to suggest Nicholson did anything wrong … aside from failing to call 911, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. Instead, Nicholson and at least one companion drove Crabbe to a hospital not far from the player’s home. Attorney Mark Dycio said his client believed driving would be faster than waiting for an ambulance.

Crabbe reportedly was unconscious and unresponsive when she arrived around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Maybe a quicker decision to head for the hospital — or call an ambulance — would’ve changed the outcome. Maybe not. Either way, when a woman dies of a suspected drug overdose that seemingly occurred at the safety’s house, the team should err on the side of caution. And common decency.

“I didn’t get into all of that,” Callahan said about playing Nicholson in the tragedy’s aftermath. “He spoke to a lot of other people in the organization relative to that situation.”

According to published reports of a search warrant executed at Nicholson’s home hours after Crabbe’s death, authorities found pills, marijuana and foil with residue. The warrant also said hospital staffers noted that Crabbe “appeared to be deceased” upon arrival with indications of a drug overdose.

“Mr. Nicholson has no knowledge of the narcotics that were found,” Dycio told CNN. “They would have belonged either to the victim or a guest of the home. Mr. Nicholson did not provide her with narcotics.”

We don’t know what happened in that house and neither does the team. The uncertainty called for restraint, making Nicholson inactive as the police investigate, the family grieves and the Redskins decline.

Keeping him sidelined until further notice would be prudent.

Then again, that would require a lapse in Washington’s usual judgment.

Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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