Commanders add Trent Williams, Robert Griffin III to ’90 Greatest’ ballot

On Saturday, the Washington Commanders announced 15 candidates to be added to their all-time greatest list in time for the franchise to celebrate its 90th season this year. Left tackle Trent Williams was conspicuously absent, leading to speculation fans oath media members that he was purposefully omitted because of the months-long dispute that marked the end of his tenure in Washington, as well as cries on social media that the list was a joke without him.

By 10 am Monday, Williams and quarterback Robert Griffin III were added to the ballot, which already included the likes of fullback Mike Sellers, kicker Chip Lohmiller and assistant coach Larry Peccatiello.

“Your feedback over the past 48 hours has been heard, and we appreciate your passion,” the team tweeted.

In 2002, a 12-member panel appointed by Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and headed by former CNN newscaster Bernard Shaw selected the 70 greatest players and coaches in franchise history. Ten more names — including Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor, LaVar Arrington, Chris Samuels and Bobby Beathard — were added to the franchise’s 80th anniversary team in 2012. Another 10 individuals, to be determined by online fan voting, will be added to the squad this season.

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In addition to Sellers, Lohmiller, Peccatiello, Williams and Griffin, who was named offensive rookie of the year in 2012 after leading Washington to its first NFC East title in 13 years, the following players and coaches appear on this year’s ballot: Champ Bailey, Chris Cooley, Kirk Cousins, Stephen Davis, London Fletcher, Darryl Grant, DeAngelo Hall, Ryan Kerrigan, Joe Lavender, Alfred Morris, Santana Moss and LaVern “Torgy” Torgeson.

According to a Commanders spokesperson, the list of candidates was compiled after engaging with several members of the franchise’s 80th anniversary team, other selected alumni and team leadership. The feedback over the weekend on social media, much of it directed at Commanders President Jason Wright, led the team to amend the ballot to include Williams and Griffin. The team has also corrected several misspellings and other errors on the site since Saturday.

Brian Mitchell, a member of the franchise’s 80th anniversary team, said on his radio show Monday that he was surprised to see Williams’ name missing from the initial ballot.

“His name was on a list that was sent out to a lot of people that did preliminary voting,” Mitchell said on 106.7 the Fan. “I know people who voted for Trent. I damn sure did.”

Given his sustained success, including seven Pro Bowls with Washington after the team selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the omission of Williams was even more glaring than Griffin. It wasn’t hard to imagine the reasons both players were initially left off.

Griffin, who was released by the team in 2016, scrapped plans earlier this year for a memoir in which he had promised to share stories of dysfunction within the organization and the “medical mismanagement” he said contributed to the knee injury that altered his career.

Williams’ departure was messier. In 2019, he skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp and training camp, and then held out the first half of the season after requesting a trade. Williams returned after the Oct. 29 trade deadline and was placed on the non-football injury list, ending his season. He told reporters at the time that his frustration stemmed from a botched cancer diagnosis by the team’s medical staff. The saga ended in April 2020, when Washington traded Williams to the San Francisco 49ers for two draft picks.

“Trent’s omission, pretty clearly, was done on purpose,” Al Galdi said Monday on his podcast.

While acknowledging that the team “wasn’t totally blameless” in the dispute, Galdi added that he wouldn’t blame Snyder if he was still upset with Williams after his ugly break from the organization.

“My goal was to be a good teammate and put a good product on the field, and I think I did both,” Williams said in December 2020, ahead of his first meeting with Washington as a member of the 49ers. “I played pretty good, productive football while I was there and received a lot of accolades for it. And that’s all I wanted to do. I want my legacy, when you think about me, is as a football player that does his job pretty well. If that’s not what they think when they see me, then they just have a difference of opinion.”

Williams made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons with the 49ers and earned first-team All-Pro honors last year. EA Sports recognized his greatness last week, when the developer of the Madden video game franchise made him the first offensive lineman to earn a 99 overall rating.

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