Washington Redskins tackle Trent Williams asked the NFL Players Association not to purse a joint investigation with the NFL into the team’s handling of his medical care, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told 106.7 The Fan on Monday morning.
Williams said late last week he had a rare tissue cancer from a growth on his head that team doctors ignored and said was minor when it appeared six years ago.
Williams was in the hospital for two weeks to undergo surgery during the offseason and held out the first half of the season. He returned after the trade deadline, but failed a physical when his helmet didn’t fit right.
Smith: NFLPA never agreed to an investigation
The team asked the NFL to begin an independent investigation under the collective bargaining agreement terms hours after Williams spoke to reporters about his cancer diagnosis. The NFL announced it would do so on Friday and NFL Network reported it would happen jointly with the NFLPA, but the union had reportedly not agreed to anything.
NFLPA officials had not spoken to Williams at that point, the person said, and when they did so later Friday, he was adamant that he did not want the NFLPA to participate.
In a statement made Sunday on Twitter, the NFLPA said various options were discussed, but that “Trent wants to put this all behind him, not relive a painful experience when his life was in danger and move on with his career.”
In a joint review, both sides — the NFL and NFLPA — choose a doctor and those two choose a third doctor to form a review panel. The doctors would investigate, mainly by reviewing medical records made available, and issue a report.
NFLPA, NFL could still investigate
The NFLPA can go around Williams’ request and begin an investigation, Smith told The Fan.
"We certainly will abide by a player's decision, either to go forward or not go forward with those things, but apart from whatever a player may want, if we see or believe that doctors are not living up to their ethical standards or if there is a release of a patient's medical records, you know, that's a situation where we might weigh in regardless of what the player's wishes are."
According to the Post source, the NFL could also begin a review against Williams and the NFLPA’s wishes, though Williams has the right to withhold his medical records. The seven-time Pro Bowler said when he had the growth removed from his head, the cancer was weeks away from reaching his brain.
NFLPA slams NFL Network over misinformation
The NFLPA issued a tweet thread Sunday morning slamming “misinformation being repeated on the NFL's own network that is not sourced and is only designed to tarnish Trent's reputation.”
The union didn’t give a name, though former Washington general manager-turned-NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly spoke about the issue Friday on-air. He said Williams was told three years ago the growth should be tested, according to the Associated Press, but the 31-year-old never scheduled it. Casserly wasn’t with the team at the time.
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