Washington Football Team Puts Trainer on Leave After Feds Raid Practice Facility

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The 2-2 Washington Football Team will prepare for its upcoming home game against the New Orleans Saints without their full training staff, after head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion was placed on administrative leave in connection with a federal criminal investigation.

The WFT said in a statement that the investigation involving Vermillion “is unrelated to the Team,” according to NBC4, which broke the story.

NBC4 reported Monday that the home of Vermillion, who’s in his 20th season on an NFL staff, was searched by federal investigators on Friday. That same day, DEA agents also raided the team’s training complex in Ashburn, Va., according to The Associated Press.

At this point, the nature of the investigation involving Vermillion is not clear. No one has been charged or arrested in connection with the inquiry. Vermillion’s lawyer declined to comment to NBC4.

Washington Football Team Head Coach Ron Rivera hired Vermillion prior to last season from the Carolina Panthers, where the two had spent nine seasons together, according to The Associated Press. “The only thing I can say about Ryan is, I know who Ryan is,” Rivera told NBC4. “Last year I trusted Ryan with my health, and I would do it again.”

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Ron Rivera trusted Ryan Vermillion during cancer battle and ‘would do it again’

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Rivera trusted Vermillion during cancer bout, ‘would do it again’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

In his general press conference with the media on Monday, Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera declined to offer much about the recently-surfaced criminal investigation surrounding head trainer Ryan Vermillion. For the most part, Rivera referred to the statement the club put out shortly after the news about Vermillion first broke.

However, when speaking to NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay in a one-on-one interview taped shortly after the presser, Rivera did offer this endorsement of Vermillion.

“The only thing I can say about Ryan is: I know who Ryan is, and last year I trusted Ryan with my health and I would do it again,” Rivera told Finlay.

Here’s video of that particular comment:

After today’s bombshell news of WFT trainer Ryan Vermillion being placed on leave, Ron Rivera tells me, ‘I know who Ryan is and last year I trusted Ryan with my health and I would do it again.’ More to come on @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/cZfXrDEpyo — JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) October 4, 2021

Last season, as Rivera battled cancer, Vermillion’s name was one he’d bring up on occasion when highlighting people who were especially important in helping him deal with that fight. Whatever’s going on with Vermillion now clearly hasn’t changed Rivera’s appreciation for Vermillion, at least in that regard.

The two men were together for nine years in Carolina before continuing their working relationship with Washington beginning in 2020, so in all, they’ve known each other for more than a decade. With Vermillion currently on leave, Rivera said he’ll work with doctors to figure out who leads the medical side of things for the organization moving forward.

Washington Football facility searched, trainer put on leave

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Washington Football facility searched, trainer put on leave

FILE - In this May 22, 2019, file photo, then-Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton (1) stretches on the sidelines as then-head trainer Ryan Vermillion watches during the NFL football team’s practice in Charlotte, N.C. The Washington Football Team has placed head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion on administrative leave for what a spokesman calls an ongoing criminal investigation unrelated to the club. Vermillion is in his second season with coach Ron Rivera in Washington after 18 seasons working for the Carolina Panthers. Associated Press

The Washington Football Team has placed head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion on administrative leave for what a team statement called an ‘œongoing criminal investigation’ unrelated to the club.

Federal law enforcement officials, including agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, served a search warrant at Washington’s practice facility, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. Another search warrant was served at a local home, according to one of the people, each of whom spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because the investigation is ongoing.

Vermillion, who is also the team’s director of sports medicine, is in his second season working under coach Ron Rivera in Washington after 18 seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

Asked Monday about Vermillion’s status and whether he was being paid while on leave, Rivera repeatedly referred to the team’s statement and declined to elaborate.

‘œWe’re just going to stick with that for right now,‘ said Rivera, who worked with Vermillion for nine seasons in Carolina before bringing him to Washington. ‘œI’m not going to comment how I personally feel about what’s going on. That would go beyond what I need to say.‘

Vermillion did not travel with the team this past weekend for its game at Atlanta. Mark McCracken, Doug Quon and Masahiro Takahagi are Washington’s assistant trainers, though Rivera did not reveal who is in charge while Vermillion is not around.

“Right now we’re going to work it with the doctors, and we’ll go from there,” he said.

Rivera said he would talk to players about focusing on their upcoming game against New Orleans and that he is not worried about Vermillion’s absence being a distraction.

‘œThe biggest thing we’ll talk about most certainly is focusing on what’s important right now for us as far as getting ready to play football games, and that’s how we’ll handle it,‘ Rivera said. ‘œI think the guys know how to compartmentalize and prepare themselves. They’ll know when to focus on what’s important about preparing to play football.‘

NBC Sports Washington and the local NBC affiliate first reported the raid. A report on 106.7 FM in Washington indicated that authorities spoke to a player about Vermillion earlier this year, which Rivera said he knew nothing about.

Washington hired Vermillion shortly after Rivera in January 2020, with owner Dan Snyder calling him a perfect fit and ‘œone of the most respected and seasoned head athletic trainers in the NFL.‘ Rivera said at the time he has ‘œseen firsthand the positive impact Ryan has on a team.‘

Vermillion won the Fain-Cain Memorial Award for Outstanding NFL Trainer of the Year in 2016, and in 2003 he led the training staff of the year as voted on by colleagues around the league.

Before his time in Carolina, Vermillion spent one season as Washington’s director of rehabilitation. Before that, he spent nine seasons on Hall of Fame coach Don Shula’s staff with the Miami Dolphins: four as head trainer and five as rehabilitation director.

Vermillion graduated from the University of Miami in 1987 and spent four years as a student trainer.

Associated Press Writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

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