The NFL and NFL Players Association will not be conducting a joint review of Trent Williams‘ medical records, after all.
Via the Washington Post, the Washington left tackle has directed the NFLPA not to participate in the joint review. Per the report, the union never agreed the review, contrary to the prior proclamation from the TV network owned by the NFL that a joint committee would be convened.
The NFLPA dropped a clear hint that Williams could be inclined not to authorize the joint committee review process, based on the first line of a statement issued on Sunday morning: “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.”
On Monday NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith echoed the notion that Williams may simply want to move on during an appearance with The Junkies on 106.7 The Fan in D.C.
“If a player decides that he wants to move on and put stuff behind him we understand the situation and in many cases, abide by the player’s wishes, my only point is I don’t like a scenario where we believe, where we see private medical information being leaked into the media we don’t like disinformation about a player’s healthcare or any issue about a player’s healthcare being discussed by some other party,” Smith said.
Some will assume that Williams’ decision to move on flows from a concern that the truth will undercut his claim that team doctors negligently failed to diagnose and treat a growth on his skull that was cancerous. That position is boosted by the recent ravings of former Washington G.M. Charley Casserly, who insisted that Williams failed to schedule a biopsy three years ago and then claimed this is all about money. (As explained on Sunday, however, Casserly’s get-off-my-lawn logic quickly falls apart in light of the fact that Williams was regularly in the presence of team doctors and trainers in the three years after allegedly failing to schedule the biopsy.)
But consider this: What would Williams gain from a joint committee review of his medical records? Any discipline imposed on Washington would be in the form of a fine, and any disclosure of his medical information would carry with it the very real risk that someone with the team or the league would share, in general or specific terms, information (or misinformation) about the contents of Williams’ chart to NFL Network.
Also, the joint committee would give Washington and its doctors a great opportunity to engage in some advance discovery, in the event that Williams pursues whatever options may be available to him within the confines of the justice system. While the league and the team surely would enjoy immunity from a malpractice claim, team doctors are almost always independent — and thus potentially would have exposure regardless of any CBA protections that would encompass the franchise.