ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams says he no longer trusts the organization and felt they were vindictive in how they waited until the last minute to try to trade him. He also remains upset over how long he said it took them to take care of a cancerous growth on his scalp.
Williams, who ended his holdout Tuesday, spoke publicly for the first time since the end of last season — and held little back.
“There’s no trust there,” Williams said. “There are some things that happened that are hard to look past.”
Williams said he held out because he was upset with the medical staff, though he didn’t name anyone in particular, and because the Redskins wouldn’t give him more guaranteed money in the last two years of his contract. It expires after the 2020 season. He also wouldn’t say whether or not he’d play for the Redskins this season. He returned because if he hadn’t done so by 4 p.m. Tuesday, he would need the team to apply to the commissioner’s office for his reinstatement. That could have prevented him from getting credit for a year played.
It wasn’t until he had a cancer scare that he wanted to end his relationship with the organization. Williams said he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP). Williams said doctors told him the growth was removed only weeks before it would have reached his skull. And, he said, doctors told him to get his affairs in order. Williams said when he said goodbye to his daughters — ages 9 and 5 — before surgery he did not know if they’d see him again.
“It was cancer. I had a tumor removed from my skull — attached to my skull — it got pretty serious for a second,” Williams said. “I was told some scary things from the doctors. It was definitely nothing to play with. It was one of those things that will change your outlook on life.”
Williams said he first asked the Redskins’ medical staff about the growth on his head six years ago, but he said nothing was done until this offseason. The Redskins, over the past several months, have offered a different version and sources said they prodded him to seek more medical attention.
In a statement released Thursday evening, the Redskins said they’ve requested that the NFL’s Management Council and NFLPA review the medical records and the medical care given to Williams.
“We have requested this review under the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement that provides for an independent third party review of any NFL player’s medical care,” the statement read. “The Redskins continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our players and staff. Due to healthcare and privacy regulations, we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Williams asserts that he was told the lump was “something minor.”
“…I mean the lump continued to grow over the years, it was concerning but there was no pain involved and if I’m being told by the very people I put my career in the hands of, people are telling me I’m fine, I’m fine,” he said. “That’s how I looked at it.”
After his 18-minute interview session with reporters at his locker, Williams said he even told doctors to remove the growth during previous surgeries on his knee and his thumb.
But it wasn’t until this offseason when Redskins doctors examined him and told him to go to a specialist.
“They kind of underestimated it and it was far more advanced than they realized and I don’t think they realized how long it was there,” Williams said.
From there, he flew on owner Dan Snyder’s plane to Chicago for further examination. That’s where he soon had the surgery in the winter. Williams said he needed 350 stitches and 75 staples on his head; the diameter of the incision was about that of a softball.
“We literally caught it within weeks of metastasizing through to my brain to my skull,” Williams said. “Extracting it was the only thing they could do. Doing radiology on it would have put a cap on my life I think 15 years was the most I would have had after I started chemo. So I had to cut it out.”
All of the emotion from this offseason rushed back to Williams when he walked into the building Tuesday — and had to get a physical from a staff he no longer trusted. During his media session, Williams constantly shook his right leg as he sat on a stool in front of his locker.
“It was a lot of emotions I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t,” he said. “I almost lost my life. Seriously, I almost lost my life. You’re 30 and coming off seven straight Pro Bowls and a doctor tells you to get your affairs in order it’s not going to sit well with you. It still doesn’t. It still, even thinking about it, it’s a scary thing to go through. Think how you describe to your 9 year old, your 5 year old that daddy might not be here. It’s tough.”
He had two subsequent cosmetic procedures done in the spring.
Williams’ scalp remains sensitive from the surgery; he said it caused him discomfort when he put on a helmet. Because of that, he failed his physical. Redskins interim coach Bill Callahan said they’re trying to have a helmet customized for Williams. However, Williams did not say he would play again for Washington.
Williams said told the team before their June minicamp that he no longer wanted to play for them. But the Redskins had told teams the price tag to obtain Williams was high — and they did not try to aggressively shop him until before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
“I mean, when you give them 48 hours to strike a deal it probably isn’t going to happen,” he said. “I just felt like that was done to embarrass me, try to make it feel like, ‘Ain’t nobody want you; you’re not good enough for us to trade for.’ I felt like that was the play more so than to get me moved.”
Williams said during his two weeks in Chicago, no team official visited him at the hospital, but former teammate DeAngelo Hall did.
But Williams said he wanted guaranteed money in the final two years of his contract. The final two years of his contract did not include guaranteed money, including next year’s base salary of $12.5 million. The Redskins have long said privately this situation was as much about money and did not want to give him an extension, fearing a bad precedent. But Williams said he just wanted to be taken care of, especially after seeing quarterback Alex Smith suffer a possible career-ending leg injury last season.
“I’ve represented this franchise in the Pro Bowl the last seven years. To me, I would think that would be good for something,” Williams said.
When last season ended Williams said he did not envision this day.
“No, no, never. We had conversation or so about the guaranteed money or lack thereof but it was never me thinking I’d be in any other organization not in December not at all,” he said.
Williams said he does not harbor any ill will towards Snyder, adding he has a “ton of respect for Dan. I love him to death. I don’t look at it being his fault.” That’s why he didn’t want to speak publicly during his holdout, fearing his words would make Snyder look bad and be taken out of context.
But when asked if his relationship with team president Bruce Allen could be repaired, Williams said simply, “Next question.” Williams said he did not think the Redskins were vindictive in the beginning.
“I think it turned that way,” he said. “It became a power struggle. It became ‘no we’re not going to fold for you as a player’ because that would make it seem to every other player that’s how they get business done. I get that part of it. But I do think it did turn that way over time.”
Nor did Williams think about retiring in the offseason.
“I still love it, it’s still the game. I’m here,” he said. “But, I just feel like things could’ve gotten handled a lot better. Obviously, it got us to this point.