Things have gone from bad to worse when it comes to the relationship between veteran left tackle Trent Williams and the franchise he’s been with for his entire NFL career, Washington.
On Thursday, Washington somewhat surprisingly placed Williams on the reserve/non-football injury list, not only shutting him down for the season but, by using the NFI list, ensuring they don’t have to pay any of his salary for this season.
Let’s just say the decision didn’t make things better.
‘Mine isn’t the only situation they got wrong’
Williams stayed away from Washington for months, only reporting to the team on October 29, after he wasn’t traded before the trade deadline.
He spoke with USA Today’s Mike Jones at length on Thursday, and offered his side of the situation that’s at the root of his displeasure with the organization, stressing that it’s rooted in the medical staff’s long dismissal of the growth he had on his head.
Washington requested a third party investigate the medical care Williams received, but Williams wants no part of it.
“If I felt like they were genuine, I’d be all for it,” he told Jones. “They’re not doing it to find out what went wrong, they’re doing it to cover their butts.
“Mine isn’t the only situation they got wrong. There are a lot of situations they could have looked into. Why didn’t they do it before now? Why didn’t they do it in Colt [McCoy’s] case? And they keep putting out these false reports. That’s never helpful. I just feel like regardless of what the findings of the investigation are, they’re going to try to find a way to paint me negatively and make themselves look better.”
(Williams doesn’t specify, but McCoy had three offseason surgeries to correct a right leg injury but was still limping well into training camp.)
Growth dismissed as ‘cyst’ again and again
Williams revealed last month, after re-joining Washington, that he’d been treated for a rare tissue cancer, which started with a growth he noticed on his head six years ago.
The seven-time Pro Bowler says that he asked team medical staff about it numerous times over that period, and nearly every time it was dismissed as a cyst.
Williams said that in 2016, he asked team doctors to send him to a dermatologist, but was denied. In 2017, he said, he was scheduling knee surgery and asked if the growth could be removed since he’d already be sedated, and “they said it wasn’t that serious.”
Once again, in 2018, he asked if it could be removed during two separate surgeries, one on his thumb and another on his knee, and was told to wait for the offseason.
He had the growth biopsied in January 2019, and said he got a call while at the Pro Bowl that the growth was cancerous. Washington team owner Daniel Snyder, who is a cancer survivor, was supportive; Williams said Snyder flew him on private jet to Chicago for an exam, to his hometown of Houston for a second opinion, and then back to Chicago for surgery. Team president Bruce Allen was not nearly so responsive.
“It was a scary situation,” Williams said.
He was diagnosed with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, a slow-growing soft-tissue sarcoma.
He had it removed, but when he reported last month and took his physical, he said he had discomfort putting on his helmet. Since he couldn’t comfortably wear the equipment, Washington failed him on the physical.
Resorted to the ‘blame game’
Williams believes Allen is behind reports that his holdout was strictly about money, and that he was missing medical appointments. On the latter, Williams said he missed one appointment, one that was scheduled for a Thursday and that he went to the next day; on the former, he said he did have a two-hour talk with Allen early in the offseason, seeking either an extension that would have kept him in Washington for the rest of his career, or to be traded to a team where he’d be wanted.
Allen declined the request.
“I had a lot of anger about my situation,” Williams said. “I felt like they could have worked something out if they really wanted me. But the breaking point was how things played out with my health and how I felt like I was mistreated. I put this organization first for so long, but they never took it seriously, and I do stand for something, and I felt like it’s not just a stand for me, but for future players as well. Because let’s be honest, they’ve got a bad track record.”
He’d like to play again, but as his contract stands, Williams wouldn’t be a free agent until after the 2020 season.
“I felt like things could have been resolved, but then the Redskins resorted to the blame game,” he said. “I stayed quiet about the situation because I want to maintain that level of respect. But there were some details coming out that only a couple people knew.”
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