Based on his 2007 salary of $435,000, the action by the Vikings will cost the three-year veteran $25,588. Williamson has 45 days to appeal Minnesota's decision to withhold his pay, and NFL Players Association sources said he will do so.
Coach Brad Childress told Twin Cities-area media following Thursday's practice that the decision was on a "business principle" of the Vikings organization.
"He had a family obligation that he had to see to," Childress said. "We sat down and talked on it before he left. ... He had to do what he had to do. Everybody handles that differently. [Williamson] had to do what his family situation called for."
Williamson's maternal grandmother, who helped to raise him and with whom he was very close, died last week and he returned to South Carolina, where he played a large role in arranging her funeral. He also had to make travel arrangements for several of his siblings, some of whom are in the armed services. He returned to the team on Wednesday as the Vikings began practicing for this Sunday's game against Green Bay.
The team apparently apprised Williamson on Wednesday that he would not receive a paycheck for the game that he missed.
"I don't care if they would have [taken] my pay for the rest of the year, I was going home," Williamson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "It wouldn't have mattered to me."
The team's first-round choice in the 2005 draft and regarded as Minnesota's best deep threat despite continuing inconsistencies that have marked his career, Williams has nine receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown while starting in six of seven games.
Williamson's agent, David Canter, revealed last week that his client's older brother was injured in an automobile accident in September and that he has been hospitalized in Georgia, where he has been in and out of a coma. He said Williamson, who has been able to spend only a little time visiting his brother, has been battling through the ordeal of "a grieving and healing" process and that his family is his first priority.
"What we have is both of the situations and circumstances coming to a head," Canter said. "His brother is in the hospital, and who knows what his health status will be? And then his grandma passing. He needs to be with his family. The Vikings are his extended family, and hopefully he can come back and continue to work to be the most successful he can be."
Canter declined comment Thursday evening on the decision by Minnesota officials to withhold Williamson's paycheck for last week.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.