View Full Version : NFL Player Loses Pay For Attending Funeral

11-09-2007, 02:26 PM
talk about terrible, how are they going to fine him money for going to a funeral? Sounds like his grandma was basically his mom too.


NFL Player Loses Pay For Attending Funeral
Troy Williamson Missed Game For Grandmother's Funeral

POSTED: 9:20 am CST November 9, 2007
UPDATED: 10:04 am CST November 9, 2007

The Minnesota Vikings docked wide receiver Troy Williamson more than $25,000 for missing last Sunday's game to attend the Monday funeral of his grandmother.

"It's not a matter of 'excused.' He had a family obligation," Vikings head coach Brad Childress said. "He had to do what he had to do, and everybody handles that differently."

Childress also said that other NFL players, including Minnesota's defensive tackle Pat Williams and Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne, played in games shortly after relatives' deaths.

Williamson's grandmother helped raise him and he played a large part in arranging her funeral, including making travel arrangements for some of his siblings, according to ESPN.com.

"I don't care if they would have [taken] my pay for the rest of the year, I was going home," Williamson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "It wouldn't have mattered to me."

Williamson is expected to appeal Minnesota's decision to withhold his paycheck, ESPN.com reported. He has 45 days to file an appeal.

The wide receiver is also dealing with another family issue. His older brother has been in and out of coma after a car accident nearly two months ago.

11-09-2007, 02:29 PM
This seems like one of those issues where he had to do what he did... and was right in doing it... and the team had to do what they did, and was right in doing it.

A precedent is a precedent.

Sometimes it costs to do the right thing... Good for him for doing it.

11-09-2007, 02:45 PM
I heard a lot of talk on sports radio this morning, on both sides of the argument. MLB has a bereavement policy where a player can take 3-5 days off with pay for the death of an immediate family member (parents, grandparents, spouse, child, in-laws) and is simply replaced on the roster for any games he misses. Not such a big deal over the course of 162 games.

However, there are only 16 games in the NFL regular season, each of them critical to a team's success. It would certainly be the fair and compassionate thing to do for the Vikings to allow him a few days away, with pay, to be with family and attend the funeral. However, given the nature of his job and his industry, I can understand why they would dock his pay for being absent on the most critical work day of the week - game day. I don't agree that they should have taken his entire game check, but possibly pro-rated it for the number of days he missed (unless he missed the entire workweek.

I agree that what the VIkings did was not the kindest or most employee-friendly action, but strictly in business terms I understand why they did it. If all NFL teams allowed players to miss the occasional game with pay, things could get out of hand very quickly -- for example, substitute "Tom Brady" or "Randy Moss" for "Troy Williamson" and you see where I'm going. I think the player's union should adopt an official bereavement policy that strikes a middle ground between the player's desire to be with his family and his responsibilities to the team.

11-09-2007, 03:19 PM
from foxsports.com


Vikings fine WR for attending funeral
FOXSports.com, Updated 4 hours ago STORY TOOLS:

The Vikings mean business in 2007. But few knew they would take it this far.

The team has informed wide receiver Troy Williamson that he will be docked one game's pay for missing three practices as well as last Sunday's game against San Diego in order to attend his grandmother's funeral.
Williamson stands to lose $25,588.24 of his $435,000 base salary, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

"It's really kind of out of my realm," coach Brad Childress said, according to the Star-Tribune. "It's a business principle, organizationally. If you don't show up, how does that work? We talked about that today."

Williamson, who returned to the team Wednesday, said he did not regret his decision to spend the time with his family.

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"I'd throw this football thing away for my family," Williamson was quoted as saying in the newspaper. "I know it's a business and I know (the Vikings have) got other obligations when it comes to them and their family also.

"I know how I feel towards mine. ... I feel like I wouldn't have been overdoing it if I had stayed home a little longer but you've got other people and their opinions."

Williamson took charge in coordinating arrangements for the funeral of his maternal grandmother, Celestine Williamson, who died in Aiken, S.C. As many as 75 family members returned to South Carolina for the funeral, with Williamson funding the trips for nearly 30 of them.

"This is a grandma I was always around," growing up, he told the Star-Tribune. "She taught me pretty much everything I know from cooking to driving to playing cards. I pretty much learned that from my grandma."

The death of his grandmother, however, is not the only tragedy that has affected Williamson. Williamson's older brother, Carlton, has been in and out of a coma since a September car accident in Georgia.

"He had some chairs on the back of his truck for one of my homeboy's wedding," Williamson said. "He was taking it to them. He was going too fast around the corner and the truck ended up flipping. It flipped like three times, and he ended up flying out of it."

Williamson spent a day with his brother after the accident, and several more during the Vikings' bye week. He was able to see his brother once again last week when he traveled to Georgia from Aiken.

"We get some signs that he's doing good one day and then it's back down," Williamson said. "It's fluctuating. Right now, he's just pretty much comatose.

"I tried to put my brother's thing on the back burner, but when this came up I had to get up out of here and try to take some time," he said. "When it came to my grandma, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to see her anymore, I knew I had to go home and handle this stuff pretty much for my family and my mom. My mom took it hardest out of all my aunts and uncles because she was the one there taking care of my grandma, trying to make sure my grandma was straight and stuff."

Childress would not say whether Williamson would be active for Minnesota's game this week against Green Bay.

11-09-2007, 03:27 PM
same materiel, different site



Whoa, there, Vikes. Down, boys. You're only one day into the public discovery of FuneralGate, and already you've got football followers around the country harking back to the memory of the "Love Boat," at Randy Moss at the bitter end rather than the sweet beginning.

ESPN Radio: Mike and Mike

Mike and Mike debate the Troy Williamson situation, along with other NFL topics, on ESPN Radio. Listen
You're currently running cheap, heartless and long-term-ignorant on the fan-o-meter, and to put it in a more direct business perspective, that crackling sound in the background is the free-agent market drying up ever so slowly around the Twin Cities as NFL players ask one another, "You hear about what the Vikings did to Troy?"

So fix it. Refund wide receiver Troy Williamson the game check. Do it now, during the daily news cycle. If you can get it done before "Mike & Mike" go off the air, or at least before Stephen A. comes on, so much the better.

Heck, do the wrong thing, if that's the only way you can think about it. Sure, you'll be violating your business principles. It'll probably feel like a precedent-setting misstep in certain of your front offices.

And it's true: The next time one of your players loses a grandmother who was like a mother to him, and who spends too long making arrangements for family members to fly in for the funeral, including some who are in the armed services, and who is simultaneously dealing with a brother who has been in and out of a coma for two months after a car accident -- well, you just might have a situation on your hands.

But, clearly, this is no longer about what you perceive as right or wrong. It doesn't even matter, at this point, that Williamson almost certainly knew when he left the team last week that if he stayed more than a couple of days, he'd face a penalty or the loss of that week's game check. Williamson did know that. He stayed in South Carolina anyway. He was willing to take the financial hit of almost $26,000 in order to secure his grandmother's funeral and make sure his family members could get flights to be there.

It's not about that. It's certainly not about the "business principle" that coach Brad Childress cited on Thursday, explaining, sort of, the fine. The coach added, by way of further (but not exactly) explaining, "If you don't show up, how does that work? We talked about that today." (And to be fair: This isn't Childress' thing. He's just the guy who has to speak to it.)

It's not even about the fact that many other athletes, including other Vikings, have quietly endured terrible family situations without missing a game or even much practice. That happens fairly regularly in the industry, and especially in football, where players are being paid to make an impact 16 times per year and rightfully understand the obligation to do so.

The point is, Vikes, you look ridiculously cheap, and crass. You're the organization that took money away from a guy who felt so compelled by the events of his real life that he needed to be with his family in a time of crisis. Is that kind of a P.R. hit really worth $25,588.24 worth of "principle?" All true. All verifiable. And all beside the point. The point is, Vikes, you look ridiculously cheap, and crass. You're the organization that took money away from a guy who felt so compelled by the events of his real life that he needed to be with his family in a time of crisis. Is that kind of a PR hit really worth $25,588.24 worth of "principle"?

I know, I know: Pretty soon guys will be saying they really need the weekend off for this or that emergency, just willy-nilly. It's such a reasonable fear, isn't it, that players would willingly sabotage their own careers by failing to show up for an NFL Sunday, in a business with an average career shelf life of mayonnaise left out in the sun? They'll be spilling out the door trying to run away from game day and drive down their own market value.

(Side thought: Would Adrian Peterson be docked a game check in the same way as a receiver who has only nine catches in six starts?)

Sure, it's a mess. It is a mess that, initially, your top executives did nothing to create. No one wants a family tragedy. No one wants a starter going through personal turmoil in the middle of the season. No one wants the employees deciding which rules they'll follow and which they'll ignore.

And on the other hand: You're the organization that just took money out of the hands of a guy who looks like he tried to do the right thing by his family. It is money, strictly speaking, that the Vikings as a company would never miss. It is not an invitation to chaos. It's a human moment.

And if you can't be moved to that reality, be moved by this: At the end of the day, it's just plain good business to take great care of your people. The clock's ticking.

Mark Kreidler's book "Four Days to Glory: Wrestling With the Soul of the American Heartland", has been optioned for film/TV development by ESPN Original Entertainment. His book "Six Good Innings," about one town's ability to consistently produce Little League champions, will be released in July 2008. A regular contributor to ESPN.com, he can be reached at mark@markkreidler.com.

11-09-2007, 03:53 PM
Sounds to me like a player with integrity.

Doesn't the NFL send a mixed message sometimes? They say they want to clean up the league and encourage teams to draft "character" guys and then fine a guy for attending a close family member's funeral.

11-09-2007, 09:43 PM
Doesn't the NFL send a mixed message sometimes? They say they want to clean up the league and encourage teams to draft "character" guys and then fine a guy for attending a close family member's funeral.

Business trumps compassion, I guess. Kudos to Williamson for sticking to his guns.

11-09-2007, 10:50 PM
Sounds to me like a player with integrity.

Doesn't the NFL send a mixed message sometimes? They say they want to clean up the league and encourage teams to draft "character" guys and then fine a guy for attending a close family member's funeral.

Although I still dont agree with it, after re-reading it, its more of the player not receiving pay since he did not play then it is a fine.

I can see their reasoning even though I don't agree with it.

Rhee Rhee
11-10-2007, 03:26 AM
i think both the player and team did what was best for themselves... not saying thats a bad thing cause troy hasn't been much of a factor this season and he's raking in millions so why not take some money that he doesn't deserve...

Atlanta Dan
11-10-2007, 07:23 AM
The player apparently took most of a week off to be with his family and attend a funeral that was on Monday.

His compassion and devotion to the memory of his late grandmother is commendable, but he made the personal choice that being with his family through the weekend outweighed the possibility of participating in the game.

My initial reaction was the Vikings were completely cold blooded but after reading the full story it is difficult for me to say the player or management did anything inappropriate here.

11-10-2007, 10:19 AM
I don't have a problem with the the player taking the week off for his Grandmothers funeral. However the player wasn't fined, he just didn't get paid for the time off. He made that decision himself. I'm pretty sure most of us would be in the same boat with our employers.

The guy is pretty fortunate to have a job that pays that much to begin with. Hard to feel to sorry for someone whose weekly paycheck exceeds what most of us make all year.

11-10-2007, 11:13 AM
From the sound of it, he didn't go to the Vikings FO and ask for the time off, he just said he was leaving and left.

For probally all of us, if we did that, we wouldn't have a job to come back to.

11-11-2007, 02:09 AM
Looks like the Vikes have had a change of heart:

Vikings coach Brad Childress will give grieving Troy Williamson his last game check

By DAVE CAMPBELL, AP Sports Writer
November 10, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Grieving Troy Williamson will get his last paycheck after all.

Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress announced the change of heart Saturday after a weekly meeting with veteran players on his leadership committee.

The Vikings withheld Williamson's check after he missed the game against San Diego last week to remain in South Carolina following the death of his grandmother.

"I think the important thing is everybody grieves differently," Childress said. "That's the thing that I learned, or we learned, in this. In the end, it's not important to be right, but to get it right."

In addition, Williamson's older brother Carlton has been in and out of coma after a car accident in September.

Williamson thanked those who spoke up for him and offered support to his family during a trying time. He said he'll donate the returned check of more than $25,000 to charity in honor of his grandmother, Celestine.

"My wish is that the issue is over, and that I can now go about being a football player and putting this matter behind me," Williamson said in a statement issued by his agent, David Canter.

Childress said Williamson would play Sunday against Green Bay "in all likelihood."

Williamson, the seventh overall selection in the 2005 draft who has produced little for Minnesota in 2 1/2 seasons, chose to stay home the entire week and not return for the win against San Diego.

The Vikings wanted the wide receiver back sooner, though, and docked him one paycheck for his absence.

In explaining the decision earlier this week, Childress pointed to other players who returned a day or two after deaths in the family.

"I think the whole approach and intent, as with any organization, is to have guidelines so you have some continuity and don't do it haphazardly," he said.

Childress, who called reporters with the news, said he should have been more flexible and indicated owner Zygi Wilf suggested he revisit the issue.

With sagging ticket sales and an unfulfilled drive for a new stadium, the Vikings (3-5) have been more proactive about public relations. Over the last several seasons, they've drawn criticism for a number of actions that have come across as rigid or cold.

Most memorably, they cut Marcus Robinson last Christmas Eve after the wide receiver fell out of favor with Childress.

NFL coaches don't often admit mistakes, but Childress has done that more than once in his second year on the job. After rookie running back Adrian Peterson carried the ball only twice in the second half of a loss to the Packers, Childress acknowledged two weeks later -- after the team's bye -- that the coaches weren't keeping close enough track of Peterson's touches.

The team will have to shell out another extra check this week after releasing quarterback Koy Detmer before the trip to Green Bay.

This came four days after he was signed as insurance after head injuries to Tarvaris Jackson and Kelly Holcomb. Holcomb's neck apparently improved enough in recent days for Minnesota to make the move.

Jackson is still a game-time decision, Childress said, following last week's concussion that knocked him out of the game against San Diego. Brooks Bollinger, who played well in relief, is the favorite to start Sunday.

Cornerback Ronyell Whitaker, who plays primarily on special teams, was re-signed to the roster after being cut to make room for Detmer.

Vikes' Change of Heart (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=AtW9nUcqvihIagESWmIYiZJDubYF?slug=ap-vikings-williamson&prov=ap&type=lgns)