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Sport 'The bridge has definitely been burned': Williams says Redskins have smeared him in aftermath of cancer diagnosis

21:55  08 november  2019
21:55  08 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Even before the Washington Redskins officially ruled out Trent Williams on Thursday for the rest of the 2019 season, the schism between the player and team had been widening.

The Redskins’ request for a third-party investigation into the medical care of the left tackle only further damaged the already fractured relationship between the two sides. The seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle, who on Thursday was placed on the season-ending reserve/non-football injury list by the franchise, said the move and ongoing media leaks have only validated his beliefs that he can’t trust his employers.

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“If I felt like they were genuine, I’d be all for it,” Williams told USA TODAY Sports. “They’re not doing it to find out what went wrong. They’re doing it to cover their butts.

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"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 (quarterback) 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.”

Redskins general manager Bruce Allen did not immediately respond to a request from USA TODAY Sports on Williams' allegations.

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Williams spoke to USA TODAY Sports prior to Thursday's move—though he later said he was surprised by the decision—but he cited a deep dissatisfaction with the franchise as well as uncertainty about his future.

Williams stayed away from the organization for months dating back to spring because he no longer trusts team doctors and officials, he said. He maintains he asked team doctors numerous times in the last six years about a growth on his head and told them he feared that it was cancerous. Doctors repeatedly classified the growth as a cyst, Williams said. 

Williams said in 2016, three years after he claimed he first raised the issue, he asked team doctors to send him to a dermatologist but was again told that the growth was a cyst. In 2017, he said, he asked doctors while scheduling knee surgery if they could remove the growth since he would be sedated, but “they said it wasn’t that serious.” The following year, he again asked about the removal of the growth during two separate procedures (one on his thumb and another on his knee), he said, but was told to wait for the offseason. 

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In January 2019, Williams had a biopsy of the growth. He said he received a call while at the Pro Bowl informing him that it was indeed cancer. At that point, according to Williams , Redskins owner Daniel Snyder flew him on a private jet to Chicago for an examination, to his hometown of Houston for a second opinion and then back to Chicago for surgery. 

Williams said he was told the cancer cells were weeks away from penetrating his skull.

“It was a scary situation,” he said of being diagnosed with Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans, a soft-tissue sarcoma that develops in the deep layers of skin.

Williams told USA TODAY Sports the dismissive nature with which Allen reacted to the matter soured him on the franchise. Although Snyder, himself a cancer survivor, had been supportive, Allen’s response and the team doctors' misdiagnosis — coupled with a long track record of medical mishaps, including repeated setbacks and post-surgery infections and/or corrective surgeries of McCoy, quarterback Alex Smith and running back Derrius Guice — prompted Williams to request a trade. 

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The Redskins were reluctant to meet those demands. The organization did not trade him at last week's deadline, so Williams reported to team headquarters to avoid losing an accrued season toward free agency. However, he has yet to step foot on the field after not passing a physical because his helmet caused discomfort at the area from where his tumor was removed.

Williams said he believes Allen was behind the many media reports that linked his dissatisfaction with the team to his contract status while downplaying the medical concerns or pinning blame on him for missteps. When former Redskins general manager and current NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly relayed the same school of thinking last week, Williams’ frustrations were renewed. 

“They started putting poison pills out there, that it was just about the money," Williams said. "The talk about me missing appointments? I’ll tell you what it was. It was scheduled for a Thursday, and I went on a Friday. I just had gotten it off by a day, one time.”

Casserly had no comment when asked by USA TODAY Sports about Williams' remark.

Williams doesn’t deny that he asked for a contract extension early this offseason. He told USA TODAY Sports that at one point he engaged Allen in a two-hour conversation about his contract.

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“I knew I was coming up on a year with no guaranteed money, and I wanted to open the conversation about them making me a Redskin for the rest of my career,” Williams said. “I understand that either a team wants the player and will extend him, or they’ll send him somewhere so they can get some value for him. I told Bruce, ‘I understand that we’re in a rebuild and if you don’t want to dump any more money in the O-line, I’d like to go somewhere that I’m wanted.’ I still felt like I’ve got 5-6 more healthy years left of quality football.”

Williams said Allen denied his request. People familiar with the Redskins’ thinking, speaking to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, say that the team brass held that this past offseason — with two years still remaining on his contract — wasn’t the time for an extension. 

“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.”

Williams maintained silence throughout the offseason, and his agent also declined to answer calls, voicemails and text messages left by media members, according to the offensive tackle. But Williams said that was by design. 

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“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.”

Even before the Redskins officially closed the door on a potential return Thursday, Williams said he felt the team's actions had caused irreparable harm.

“I feel like everything has run its course,” he said. “I mean, I do want to play football still and I’m not a free agent until after the 2020 season, so who knows. But the bridge has definitely been burned, and any efforts now, basically are, in my opinion, pretty much just CYA (cover your ass).”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and listen to the Football Jones podcast on iTunes.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'The bridge has definitely been burned': Trent Williams says Redskins have smeared him in aftermath of cancer diagnosis

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