The Washington Commanders hired Al Bellamy as their new head athletic trainer Monday, replacing Ryan Vermillion who was put on administrative leave in the fall because of a criminal investigation unrelated to the team.
Federal law enforcement officials, including agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, served a search warrant at the team’s practice facility and a local home in October. A Commanders spokesman declined comment when asked if Vermillion was still on leave or no longer with the organization.
Vermillion has yet to be charged. Coach Ron Rivera said recently at league meetings in Florida he and the front office were interviewing finalists for Vermillion's replacement after piecing together the training staff for much of last season.
“It’s been a very difficult situation,” Rivera said in January. “We hired Greg Smith, who obviously worked at one point for the (NHL's Washington) Capitals and did a great job coming in to help us, but that was a temporary thing. We brought in a couple of interns that had worked with us to help add some more bodies to it and it worked effectively. Was it ideal? No. But going forward, we will certainly have to look at that and we will, and we’ll address it.”
The Commanders addressed it by bringing in Bellamy, who spent 13 years with Washington beginning in 1988 and 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions.
“I am excited to welcome Al Bellamy back to Washington,” Rivera said upon announcing the hire. “His experience and professionalism are both traits that we were looking for when making this hire. I’m looking forward to working with Al here in Washington, and I know his knowledge and expertise will be invaluable for our players and coaches.”
Bellamy spent the past nine years as director of athletic training for Temple University athletics. He has a connection to Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew, who was a player with Washington during Bellamy's first stint, and the two overlapped with Detroit when Mayhew was in the Lions front office.
Mayhew called Bellamy “one of the finest men I’ve had the privilege of working with in the NFL" and “one of the most well-respected men in his field.”
Bellamy is Washington's fourth full-time trainer in four years. Longtime trainer Larry Hess, who had been with the team for 17 years, was fired at the end of the 2019 season after president Bruce Allen. Vermillion, who came with Rivera from the Carolina Panthers, was in his second season on the job.
“I'm going to hit the ground running and can’t wait to help contribute to what coach Rivera is building here in Washington,” Bellamy said.
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