DeAngelo Williams adds context to his 2014 behavior

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Some things are starting to make sense.

First there was the image in late May of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy leaving an offseason workout flanked by running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart like they were Secret Service protecting the president.

I wondered at the time why two offensive players took such a special interest in serving as buffers for Hardy, who earlier in the month had been arrested on domestic violence charges.

It makes more sense after hearing Williams tell a local Charlotte television station Monday night that Hardy was the only teammate who attended his mother’s funeral in Arkansas on May 24.

"One player came," Williams said during the interview in which he told WBTV the Panthers planned to release him. “And there is nothing that he can say or do in my eyes that is bad. ... Greg Hardy. All the players around the league, all the players in the locker room, they texted and called. But Greg Hardy showed up."

This doesn’t explain why no other teammates showed up, but it does explain Williams' allegiance to Hardy.

Then there was Williams going the entire offseason and training camp -- and really most of the season -- without doing interviews, much like Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.

There were times when he did it in such a demeaning way that it was offensive. A member of the Panthers' public relations department asked during training camp that reporters give Williams time, explaining that the team’s all-time leading rusher was dealing with losing his mother to breast cancer.

It was hinted then that Williams wasn’t upset with the media as much as he was management for not doing enough after his mother died.

His comments on WBTV about owner Jerry Richardson not reaching out to him at the time his mother died and really not until a few months later added substance to that.

"I’m not saying this now because they’re releasing me," Williams told WBTV. "But it stung to know that a place of business that you work for and that you’ve bled and played through injuries, you did everything you possibly can for this organization to be successful, and then upon your darkest hour they let you handle it by yourself."

The Panthers haven’t responded to any of this. Regardless of what they did or didn’t do regarding the death of Williams’ mother, Williams felt they didn’t do enough.

This has nothing to do with why Williams will be released with a post-June 1 designation. The decision was based on his age -- 32 in April -- and moving forward with $2 million in savings under the salary cap.

It has to do with the Panthers realizing they can’t go into the season with $18 million committed to three backs -- Williams ($6.3 million), Stewart ($8.3 million), and Mike Tolbert ($3.4 million) -- in an era when the running back has been devalued.

It has to do with an injury-prone Stewart showing late last season, while Williams was out with a broken hand, that he can be the go-to back.

But this does explain why Williams isn’t brokenhearted about being released like all-time leading receiver Steve Smith was last season.

That it’s taken a while for all of this to surface comes back to something general manager Dave Gettleman said last year when talking about offseason decisions.

"The truth of the matter is everybody is on the outside looking in," he said. "The fact of the matter is there's stuff going on behind closed doors that we don’t know about. I don't care what team it is. I don't care what sport it is. You don't know all the facts. Unless you know all the facts, all you're doing is speculating."

Williams has ended some of the speculation surrounding him. You could argue it comes off as sour grapes because he waited until after being told he was done at Carolina to speak. You could argue it has turned into a public relations blunder for Carolina.

But at least now some things are starting to make sense.