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Washington Football facility searched, trainer put on leave

October 4, 2021 GMT
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. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
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. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
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. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

The Washington Football Team has placed head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion on administrative leave for what a team statement called an “ongoing 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.

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“We’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. “I’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.

“The 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. “I 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 “one of the most respected and seasoned head athletic trainers in the NFL.” Rivera said at the time he has “seen 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.

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Associated Press Writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

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