NFL offensive tackle Trent Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowler for Washington’s football team, has publicly blamed the team for not taking his cancer scare seriously.
On Thursday, Williams spoke publicly for the first time since the end of the 2018 season. In speaking to a group of reporters in front of his locker for 18 minutes, he described a horror story where he noticed a growth on his head in 2013 but was told by team doctors that it was nothing to worry about.
After six years of telling the player that the lump wasn’t a problem, Washington finally took Williams’ fears seriously this offseason and sent him to their affiliated INOVA hospital — that’s when he was told the lump on his head was likely a serious health issue. He was transferred to a hospital in Chicago where the tumor on his head was deemed cancerous and eventually removed.
“We literally caught it within weeks of metastasizing through to my brain to my skull. 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,” Williams told reporters Thursday.
Williams said the rare cancer is called Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans, or DFSP, a soft tissue sarcoma.
“I almost lost my life,” he said. “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.”
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Williams’ anger and distrust over his initial fears being ignored by the team is what led to his five-month holdout, which he ended Tuesday. The star player openly said “there is no trust there” when asked about the organization, which he has played for the entirety of his nine-year NFL career.
However, he did return to the team Tuesday afternoon, the Post reported, when it became clear that he would not be traded to another team before the league’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, as he had requested June 1. By reporting to the team at the 11th hour, Williams can say he has fulfilled his contractual obligations. His contract is up at the end of the 2020 season.
But Williams will not be able to play because of his surgery to remove the lump. He was not able to fit a helmet on his head comfortably, the Post reported, and so he failed his physical that would have cleared him to play.
“I guess nobody took the time to see what was going on there,” Williams told reporters, describing the way the team doctors responded to his questions about the growth. “Football was more important, and to me, it was more important, too. I was told it was something minor so I didn’t really question them. But, 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, [then] I’m fine. That’s how I looked at it.”
Washington released a statement on the Williams matter Thursday.
“The Redskins continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our players and staff,” the team said in a statement. “Due to healthcare and privacy regulations, we are unable to comment further at this time.”
— Kareem Copeland (@kareemcopeland) October 31, 2019