The Washington Redskins‘ season has been a disaster. The team has not been the same since quarterback Alex Smith’s gruesome injury last season. They cannot win a game, they were the first NFL team to fire their coach, and the very culture of the locker room appears to be in shambles. One particularly painful situation for the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL is the Trent Williams situation. Let’s look at Williams’ history with the team why the way they treated him makes the Redskins look so dysfunctional.
Trent Williams’ medical situation
Trent Williams is a seven-time Pro Bowler, and he might be the best player on the Redskins’ roster. It came out that Williams had a cancerous tumor in his head. According to USA Today, Williams claims that he told the team about the growth on his head during 2013, when Mike Shanahan was still coaching the team. The team reportedly looked at it and told him that it was no big deal.
The lump grew after that, and while it did not cause him any pain, it continued to be a cause of concern for Williams. After a doctor examined the perceived cyst on his head, however, he found out that it was a cancerous tumor that was spreading toward his brain. The treatment resulted in three surgeries during the offseason, and he still has not been on the football field.
The team revealed that it was going to hire a third party to look into the way it handled the situation.
Williams’s response to the Redskins
Trent Williams has refused to play for the Redskins in large part due to their handling of his cancerous growth. He spoke to the media about the situation, and he was physically uncomfortable with what he was about to say. According to Williams, none of the team’s officials visited him in the hospital for his treatment, only his ex-teammate DeAngelo Hall.
He confirmed the reports that team doctors told him that the growth was minor until they told him that he should see the specialist who eventually diagnosed the cancerous growth. Williams also revealed that the doctors told him that the growth could be potentially deadly for him. Washington’s response to this was always going to say a lot about how seriously they were going to take it, and when they responded, it made the already embattled franchise look even worse.
The team’s reaction to Williams’ words
Rather than apologizing for the perceived lack of bedside manner from the team’s officials, they sent ESPN a correction. The Redskins stated that athletic trainer Larry Hess had spent a week in Chicago, and that others had called Williams during the entire ordeal, but he didn’t return the calls.
ESPN also reported that the Redskins have privately accused Trent Williams of using the situation to get money. The Redskins already have a poor reputation, and Dan Snyder, in particular, has been accused on multiple occasions of treating his team’s players as though they are property and building a culture based on fear and bitterness since he has been there.
What makes the Redskins’ latest situation so despicable is the fact that it shows a team who is not valuing the player’s wishes and making them feel like they are part of something big. Headlines like this don’t come out about the Patriots, the Packers, or other teams who historically build good relationships with their players. Every story about the Redskins, however, seems to paint a picture of a team that does not worry about building a sustainable positive culture.
This situation may boil over or be resolved, but when a player’s life is literally at stake, it is hard to commend the team for sending one doctor and communicating over the phone when the player is there hoping to get some support from the team he risks his limbs for every week out on the field.