- The Washington Times - Monday, October 4, 2021

The Washington Football Team placed head trainer Ryan Vermillion on administrative leave due to an ongoing criminal investigation “that is unrelated to the team,” a team spokesman said Monday. 

Vermillion, who was one of the first hires under coach Ron Rivera, is the focus of a federal investigation, a source with knowledge of the situation said. Federal law officials — including those from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — executed a search warrant on Washington’s facility and Vermillion’s home last week, the source confirmed. 

Vermillion reportedly did not travel with the team to Atlanta over the weekend for Sunday’s 34-30 win over the Atlanta Falcons. During the game, a number of notable starters got hurt, including All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff (knee) and tight end Logan Thomas (hamstring). Both are considered week-to-week, while the team lost linebacker Jon Bostic (pec) and cornerback Torry McTyer (ACL) for the year. 

During his press conference Monday, Rivera offered little comment beyond the team’s initial statement. He declined to specify who will take Vermillion’s role in the meantime.

“I’m not going to comment with how I personally feel about what’s going on,” Rivera said. “That would go beyond what I need to say.” 

The investigation into Vermillion is the latest off-the-field scandal related to the Washington Football Team. In July, the NFL fined the team $10 million for what the league described as a “toxic” workplace environment after more than 40 women said they were sexually harassed while working for the team. The franchise also retired its long-time “Redskins” moniker last year following a renewed push from investors, sponsors and activists to change a name that many deemed offensive.

As the controversies unfolded, Rivera would often plead for those to “judge us on where we’re going, not where we’ve been.”  Rivera, who took over in 2020, vowed to change the team’s culture and as part of that shift, Washington made many personnel changes. “We’re changing the way we’re doing things,” Rivera said last year. “Part of it has been the people that have been brought into the organization.”

Vermillion was among those who joined the franchise upon Rivera’s hiring. Before he was hired, Vermillion spent 18 seasons as head trainer for the Carolina Panthers — roughly half of that time with Rivera

Washington’s previous training staff came under intense scrutiny by the end of last decade. In addition to the litany of injuries that affected the on-field product, former Washington left tackle Trent Williams accused the team of mishandling a cancerous growth on his scalp in 2018. When former trainer Larry Hess was fired a year later, then-Washington cornerback Quinton Dunbar tweeted, “Larry gone what a surprise, not…”

Rivera said last year that he hired Vermillion in part to “redevelop trust in the training room.” The two also worked closely together as Rivera dealt with his own cancer diagnosis.

“I couldn’t think of a better person than Ryan Vermillion,” Rivera said in February 2020. “I really truly couldn’t. I’m very fortunate. I’m going into my 34th year in the league and I’ve (been) around a lot of good trainers. He really makes me believe that he‘s one of the best ones because of the way he works.”

With Vermillion on staff, Washington was the sixth-healthiest team in the league last season, according to Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost metric. The team’s main injuries were to safety Landon Collins (Achilles) and defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (biceps).

On Monday, Rivera declined to say if Vermillion was being paid while on leave. The team lists three assistant trainers on staff: Mark McCracken, Doug Quon and Masahiro Takahagi.

In Carolina, Vermillion won the Fain-Cain Memorial Award for Outstanding NFL Trainer of the Year in 2016, and in 2003, his colleagues around the league voted the Panthers as having the training staff of the year.  

NBC Sports Washington and 106.7 The Fan first reported the news that Vermillion was placed on leave. 

Before the Panthers, Vermillion, who graduated from the University of Miami in 1987, spent a season in Washington as director of rehabilitation and nine years with the Miami Dolphins. 

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