General manager Jerry Angelo and head trainer Tim Bream conducted a teleconference to go over Chris Williams' back condition and what went into the decision process in selecting him in the draft.
Here are excerpts from Angelo's portion of the call:
"When Tim went over all this, when we were talking about it with our medical people, obviously the thing that I was concerned with is he's a football player. I'm not talking about the normal, average Joe walking the street. As what Tim said, there are a good number of players playing with this and or worse that we've seen over a period of time. And I use that term wear and tear. We knew that there was wear and tear with Chris. But ultimately what our medical people want, whether it is this type of injury, an ACL, a shoulder injury, how did the player perform post injury? Did Chris complain of back pain? He missed two to three days but he played throughout his whole career. What are the symptoms of a herniation? Repetitive MRI's, which he did not have, missed practice time, missed game time, which he did not have. And symptoms which would create pain running down his extremities and his lower legs, and or numbness in his feet, which he never had. He had none of those symptoms. He had none of those issues prior to us drafting him. When we found the herniation within that 24-hour span, he did have those symptoms. That's what we reacted to. But none of that had anything to do up until that time in terms of what I just said. That's what I want to make clear. It's not that he had any of these symptoms that I just went over when he was in college. He did not. And that's what we went on because players can play with this condition and have.
"There is a lot of history of players that had this condition that he had at the combine that have played with it. We were basing it off of the play time. We were basing it off of no symptoms for a period of three or more years. We were comfortable with that. I did use the term wear and tear. There were concerns. But you know what, you could say that for a lot of players at a lot of positions. We were comfortable with this. We were not trying to hide anything. We did not tell Chris to not talk about this and or to say anything differently than what he said. What we said from the outset has been consistent.
"And guys, what I told you is what our doctor told me. This isn't something that I looked at the MRI myself and or diagnosed. This is what our doctor said, this is a new injury. All these questions that you're asking me, trust me I asked our doctor. And those were the things that were told to me by our doctor. This was a new injury. This could have happened to anybody. Again, I keep going back, make sure you understand the foundation of all this, that he had no symptoms throughout his career in college and that weighed heavily with us as it did with our doctors. He did have wear and tear. But again there are a lot of players that have come out, and have played and will continue to play with this type of condition. That's a fact."
DOES IT EFFECT A PLAYER'S DRAFT STATUS WHEN THERE IS A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION?
"It will. It will for some teams, it won't for others. That's where every team has to make its own determination. It's not black and white. I think if you called all the teams that really needed an offensive lineman, this is where this is germane to, look at those teams because they probably did A to Z. There were eight offensive linemen drafted in the first round, tackles that is, so there were a goodly amount of teams looking at that position. Are you going to say or am I going to say that every team had this guy off their board? You know that's not a fact. You know they looked at the same things we did and they made the determination they would draft him. Not all teams. But I would say most of the teams would have. And we talked to other medical people and other teams. So I can say that with a clear conscience. So again, you can't just isolate this and look at this through a straw. That's not being fair."
WILLIAMS' CAREER WILL NOT BE DETERMINED FOR A FEW YEARS. KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW, ARE YOU CONFIDENT YOU MADE THE RIGHT CALL AND WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?
"I would do it again based on the information that we ascertained leading up to the decision, OK. I would do it again. You're going to ask me if I would swing at the same pitch if I struck out the next time? No. You can't. I can only base my decision, my answer, based on that time. And we would have done that. We saw a concern, but it wasn't acute. We didn't see anything acute.
"We had Marcus Robinson, we went through with this. We had Charles Tillman [have disc surgery]. There was an offensive linemen Tim told me we had here with the Bears who went through this, and everyone continued to play throughout their careers. Again, this was an isolated incident, and we feel good about the prognosis. We feel good about him coming back as healthy as he can come back and going forward that he is going to continue to be a good player and a healthy player or else we would not have wanted to carry him on our 53."