DeMaurice Smith: NFLPA won't pursue formal review of Trent Williams' treatment

Ben Krimmel
November 04, 2019 - 8:26 am

Washington Redskins tackle Trent Williams has asked the National Football League Players Association not to pursue an investigation into the handling of his medical care by the team, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told The Sports Junkies Monday. 

Smith warned if the spread of disinformation about the Redskins' left tackle's medical condition and "leaking of private medical records does not stop" the union will consider "all legal action." 

In a statement provided to 106.7 The Fan and The Junkies, Smith said: "Our Union will continue to support Trent. Although he has asked us to not pursue a formal review of his treatment, we will consider all legal action if the affirmative disinformation campaign and the leaking of his private medical records does not stop. Doctors have an ethical obligation to treat our men as patients first regardless of where their check comes from. It is our job to ensure that they honor that duty and if we find that they have not, we must then hold the physician accountable to the CBA and their medical licensing authority."

Smith elaborated in an interview Monday on 106.7 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."

"And we're gonna stand by Trent, we stand by every player that we represent," Smith told The Junkies. "We never shy away from a fight if we have to have it. But you know, the leaks about his medical condition, the disinformation that's out there, it's not fair to him. It should stop immediately and if it doesn't we'll figure out what steps we need to take."

Smith told The Fan information that said the NFLPA would participate in a joint investigation with the league was not accurate.

"The information that there was going to be a joint investigation by the league and the NFLPA, I don't know who from the NFL Network thought that they could speak on behalf of the NFLPA, but it didn't come from me," Smith said on 106.7 The Fan Monday. "I don't know where that information came from, there isn't going to be a joint investigation unless we decide we're going to have one."

Smith added if the Redskins want to have their own investigation they are free to have one and they are free to ask the NFL to conduct their own investigation, but the CBA says only the NFLPA can trigger a joint investigation.

Sunday, the players' association tweeted a statement that accused the NFL Network of spreading misinformation about Williams.

"In our multiple conversations with Trent and his agent, we have considered various options based on the facts, but we also understand 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. We are also aware of misinformation being repeated on the NFL's own network that is not sourced and is only designed to tarnish Trent's reputation. Our union supports Trent, is protecting his rights and continues to consider potential action if a campaign against him continues," the statement read.

The statement does not name anyone at the network, but on Nov. 1, former Washington GM Charley Casserly said on the network team doctors told Williams three years ago he needed to get the growth on his head tested by a specialist and Williams did not schedule the procedure. Casserly said he suspected Williams’ holdout was financially motivated and not due to the issue of medical care or misdiagnosis.

Williams, who returned to the team on Oct. 29 ending his months-long holdout, confirmed the tumor on his head was cancerous and told the media, "I almost lost my life."

Williams said he finally convinced the Redskins doctors to take a closer look at the growth: “I got the team to finally get what I thought was a cyst extracted, and when they did, they found it wasn’t a cyst it was a tumor,” Williams said. “DFSP is what the cancer is called, a very rare soft tissue cancer. So they realized it was that and you know obviously five years it grew substantially than what it was when I first brought it to their attention.”

Redskins team doctors at Inova first removed the growth, but “they kind of underestimated it and it was far more advanced than they realized,” Williams said. “I don’t think they realized how long it was there — the doctors who have seen me — so they had to send me somewhere else. That’s when I ended up going to Chicago.”

On Nov. 1, the Redskins released a statement announcing their request for a joint review between the league and players' union.

"The Washington Redskins have requested that the NFL's Management Council convene a joint committee with the NFLPA to review the medical records and the medical care given to Trent 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 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. We look forward to the joint committee's results."

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