Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams ended his silence on Thursday and said he had a soft-tissue cancer attached to his skull that went misdiagnosed for close to six years, leading to his dispute with the team.
Williams said he thought he was getting a cyst cut out during the offseason appointment only to learn he had dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, a skin cancer that develops inside connective tissue cells.
"When they did (remove it), I found out it wasn't a cyst. It was a piece of a tumor," Williams told reporters.
Williams said he later had multiple surgeries to remove the tumor. His unhappiness over how the Redskins diagnosed the growth was a major factor in his eight-game holdout that ended Tuesday.
"It was cancer, I had cancer," Williams told reporters. "I had a tumor removed from my skull, attached to my skull. It got pretty serious for a second. I was told some scary things from the doctor. It was definitely nothing to play with. It was one of those things that changes your outlook on life."
Williams said he first was told about the issue in 2013 during Mike Shanahan's final season as coach. The seven-time Pro Bowler said he repeatedly was told over the years that the growth wasn't a serious issue.
"I guess somebody (finally) took the time to actually try to see what was really going on there," Williams said. "Football was more important. And, I mean, to me it was more important, too. I was told it was something minor, so I didn't really question it. But the lump continued to grow over the years. It was concerning, but there was no pain involved. If I'm being told by the very people who I put my career in the hands of telling me I'm fine, then I'm fine. That's how I looked at it."
He has been at major odds with the organization since the discovery that the growth was cancerous.
"There's no trust," Williams said when asked if his relationship with the front office could be repaired.
The Redskins responded with a statement that indicated they are asking the NFL's Management Council to put together a joint committee to examine Williams' medical records and medical care.
"The Redskins continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our players and staff," the statement added. "Due to healthcare and privacy regulations, we are unable to comment further at this time. We look forward to the joint committee's results."
Williams' comments came one day after he failed his physical when he experienced pain in his forehead while putting on a helmet.
Washington interim coach Bill Callahan said, "Right now, we're working on getting his helmet customized and fitted so that there are no issues or problems with the fit and make sure it's at a comfort level for him. He's in all the meetings as of right now and he's allowed to be on the field, he can observe. But there's no actual physical practice that he can undergo at this junction without being cleared."
Williams, 31, qualifies for a two-week roster exemption, allowing the Redskins to wait one full week before adding him to the 53-man roster.
The impetus for Williams to return was continuing his clock toward free agency. An accrued season is not awarded for players who don't attempt to be available for at least six games in a season. If Williams is placed on the non-football injury list, he would not receive credit for a year of service.
Williams' five-year, $66 million deal expires after the 2020 season. Williams is scheduled to make $12.5 million in base salary next season.
Williams isn't sure if his rift with the team can be resolved. There have been reports he doesn't plan to play in another game for the Redskins, but he didn't confirm or deny such speculation.
"We'll see how this helmet thing turns out, but like I said, I'm here," Williams said.
Williams started 119 of 120 games played over his previous nine NFL seasons.
--Field Level Media