Trent Williams Cancer Scare Is The Latest Red Flag Of The Dan Snyder Era In Washington

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“I had cancer, I had a tumor removed from my skull. It got pretty serious for a second. I was told some scary things from the doctor so it was definitely nothing to play with — one of the things that will change your outlook on life.”

2019 – Trent Williams on Cancer Diagnosis via Kareem Copleand

Trent Williams is a 31-year old, 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive tackle that has played his entire career for Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins. In 2010, the franchise drafted the lineman in the first round with expectations that he’d be a franchise cornerstone for years to come. Needless to say, the Oklahoma draftee has delivered by anchoring the team’s offensive line while being selected to seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 2012 to 2018. That streak is likely to end this year…

Not because his play has declined, and certainly not because he is injured this season. The glaring reason Williams is likely to miss out on the festivities this season is that he has spent the entire 2019 season until this past week holding out. Now, he is on the commissioner’s exempt list and is unlikely to play for the ‘Skins this season. 

There are two main reasons for the star’s extended absence.

One. He is one of the premier tackles in the entire league and his current contract has no guaranteed money remaining. Certainly, this would be enough reason for any veteran with leverage in a professional capacity within the NFL to holdout. However, the second reason is deeply-rooted to a degree of misdiagnosis and mistrust.

Six years ago, Washington’s medical staff discovered a growth on Williams’ head and dismissed the lump as being minor. Sadly, this isn’t the case. 

Last year, the tackle went to have the cyst removed. When testing was initially done, doctors outside of the Washington organization discovered that the growth was actually a form of cancer. Diagnosed as Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans or DFSP for short, the cancerous growth has been growing larger for years. 

“It’s a very rare soft tissue cancer. The diagnosis that they gave me in the beginning, they kind of underestimated it,” Williams said according to CBS Sports.

During the offseason, Williams had several surgeries relating to the removal of the tumor and has been away from the team until reporting earlier this week prior to the NFL’s trade deadline. Initially, he attempted to go through a physical to be cleared for game action. However, he failed the exam when he expressed he was experiencing discomfort on his scalp while putting a helmet on. Currently, the team is trying to find a customized helmet for the Pro-Bowl tackle.

As a 32-year-old, Dan Snyder became the youngest CEO of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company while taking his company, Snyder Communications LP, public in September 1996. After a series of acquisitions and expansions, Snyder sold the company in April 2000 to a French advertising and marketing company that traded an excess of $2 Billion in the all-stock transaction. The deal was the largest in the history of the advertising/marketing industry, which saw the Maryland native clear an estimated $300 Million for his shares. 

Fast forward to May 1999…

In the wake of previous owner Jack Kent Cooke’s death, Snyder bought the ‘Skins and their stadium for $800 Million. At the time, it was the largest deal in sports history. A majority of the capital in the deal was borrowed or financed. Over the next few years, in an attempt to pay down debt, the owner decided to sell of various interests in the team and reduced his ownership stake to a majority-remaining 65%.

Brokering sponsorship deals with Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Sprint and Fed-Ex, as of 2014 the Redskins were the third-highest revenue grossing team in the NFL behind the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots.

It’s all sounds peachy right? Honestly, this simply just isn’t the case. The controversial Snyder has been the subject of public backlash for the majority of his tenure, and may possibly be the most-hated owner in sports now that Jeffrey Loria sold his stake as the owner of the Miami Marlins a few years ago. 

So what makes Snyder susceptible to so much scrutiny?

First off, the team’s on-field performance has been declining for years. By the end of the 2018 season, they managed to compile a sub-standard record of 139-180-1. Prior to his purchase, the Redskins were a team with a tradition of winning. Now, they’ve gone through eight coaches in his tenure and can’t seem to gain any traction in the mediocre NFC East Division. They are perennial cellar-dwellers.

Below the surface, things are far worse. His leadership style has alienated the fanbase, as he has at times banned signage in the stadium, charged fans for parking in certain “tailgate” designated spots, charged fans to attend training camp sessions, increased ticket prices immensely, and even sued season ticket holders who were in default of their payments in the wake of the early 2000’s recession.

Making a long story short…

Snyder is a greedy, overbearing bottom-line owner who could care less about his fans, or his team’s performance. His coaching hires are equivalent to a revolving-door in a New York City high-rise. He is insensitive, as related to the controversy over the demand to change the demeaning Redskins’ name. And furthermore, to put it bluntly, he is downright irresponsible as an NFL owner for treating Fed-Ex field and Washington D.C. as his own personal playground.

So let’s tie this all in together…But first before we get started, it’s important to reference the fact that this is the second time this decade that the Redskins’ franchise has failed to do what’s right on behalf of the long-term health of a player. Also, it’s the second time they have managed to drop the ball on a first-round pick.

Does the name Robert Griffin III ring a bell?

RGIII was drafted in 2012 out of Baylor after winning the Heisman Trophy. The ‘Skins traded four high-value draft picks to select him second-overall, which included three first-rounders.  Throughout the beginning of the season, the rookie signal-caller proved to be quite prolific and took the entire league by storm. 

However, he suffered a few major injuries towards the latter part of the season. The first was a concussion in mid-October, and he was cleared for action the following week. The second occurred later in the season and was designated a Grade 1 LCL sprain. This time, he sat out a week before returning to play with a knee brace. 

The major controversy emerged in January on the same day the Redskins faced the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game. USA Today reported that despite head coach Mike Shannahan’s previous statements, renowned sports physician Dr. James Andrews had not cleared Griffin to return to action back in December. 

Finally, the quarterback re-injured the knee during the game against Seattle and ultimately required surgery to repair both his LCL and ACL. After that, Griffin never returned to the same form he displayed prior to the injury and lacked the mobility to impact the game with his legs. As a result, his career was pretty much ruined by the organization’s decision to play him, despite the fact he was not in the proper state of health to compete. Regardless of whether the decision was made by Snyder, Shannahan, or the medical team, it’s obvious the Redskins’ lacked a clear conscience in the matter. 

Why would you trade away the future for your “Quarterback of the Future”, just so you could live in the present and ruin his future by rushing him back from a serious knee injury?

Although the decision was made at one young man’s expense, it’s quite the “knee-slapper”. No pun intended.

Now that history has been served, let’s really tie this all together…

The Redskins are denying any wrong-doing in the matter regarding Williams’ tumor and former employees have even gone on to accuse him of not seeking team-recommended follow-up observation after the initial discovery six years ago.  After his announcement, the team immediately issued a statement.

“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 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.”

So who is at fault in the matter? 

History would suggest that Snyder and the Redskins’ franchise is dropping-the-ball yet again when it comes to looking out for the long-term health of one of their players, not to mention another marquee player at that. 

Now, the NFL Player’s Union has come to the defense of Williams and blasted the NFL Network and analyst Charles Casserly, who is Washington’s former-GM for using unsourced information designed to tarnish William’s reputation.  

Either way you shake it, this is just another “red flag” that brings forth the questions of Snyder being adequate and competent to direct an NFL franchise. Evidence suggests he doesn’t care about his fans or his team’s performance, and despite the fact Williams doesn’t directly blame Snyder for the mishandling of the situation, it seems that the owner doesn’t seem in-tune with the realities and dangers of player health in a dangerous NFL. First RGIII, and now Williams? 

Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins suffer from a complete lack of “institutional control” and this matter is his fault, despite whether or not his hands have dipped into this specific situation. Everything starts with the top and trickles down. His lack of ability to hire people to employ quality medical professionals speaks volumes to the fact he is no different than the financially-motivated Loria, or the infamous Donald Sterling (Los Angeles Clippers) who was banned from the NBA for life. 

We’re talking player health. We’re talking human beings. We’re talking about quality of life. We’re talking cancer that could have killed a young man. 

“If I’m getting told by various people who I put my career in the hands of telling me that I’m fine, then I’m fine. That’s how I looked at it.”

2019 – Trent Williams via CBS Sports