The knee injury suffered by Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins has become the hot topic of the day after last weekend’s wild-card games.
First, prior to Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, USA Today Sports reported that Dr. James Andrews never game Redskins coach Mike Shanahan clearance to let Griffin return to play last month.
Andrews, however, told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday that he never cleared Griffin to go back into the game, because he never even examined him.
“(Griffin) didn’t even let us look at him,” Andrews said. “He came off the field, walked through the sidelines, circled back through the players and took off back to the field. It wasn’t our opinion.
“We didn’t even get to touch him or talk to him. Scared the hell out of me.”
Then, he re-aggravated the injury – possibly twice – during the game against the Seahawks, according to the Washington Post.
The Washington Times reported that the extent of Griffin’s injury is unknown and he is flying to Birmingham to see Dr. Andrews with the possibility of an ACL tear. The Post reported that he has partial tears of the ACL and LCL.
That news only flamed the fires of controversy over coach Mike Shanahan’s decision to leave the rookie quarterback in the game with an apparent injury. Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times said Shanahan should not have let him play when he was hurting.
If Shanahan were waiting for Griffin to pull himself out, he’d still be waiting. Griffin would have been on the field until the bitter end. The coach cannot slough off that decision on a player. Coaches are paid to make the tough decisions. And in this case, Shanahan should have considered the long-term consequences, and the general well-being of a player who was breaking down before our eyes.
Yahoo!Sports’ Dan Wetzel asked what Shanahan was thinking when he allowed Griffin to stay in the game during the second half.
The entire ordeal was painful to watch and had many wondering if Griffin III was being unduly risked for injury and whether Shanahan was pressing for a playoff victory while putting the health and future of his star rookie at risk. This was especially questionable because Cousins was terrific in a supporting role during the regular season. The Washington offense did nothing, allowing Seattle to mount drive after drive and finally take the lead.
One Bleacher Report columnist said Shanahan shouldn’t be taking blame for sticking with his QB.
Whether or not the Redskins would have been better off with rookie Kirk Cousins in the game is another argument altogether, but the opportunity to have RGIII on the field in the playoffs is one that the Redskins needed to take advantage of. This might not be bad judgement, but just bad luck.
And Peter King of Sports Illustrated is not about to lay all of the blame on Shanahan:
I do not — do not — blame Shanahan entirely here. Even if there’s a frosty relationship between noted team orthopedist James Andrews and Shanahan, Andrews is on the staff, at least in part, because he’s the foremost expert on knees in the country. He should have the power to speak up when he sees something obviously wrong with the franchise quarterback. And Griffin is not blameless here either. He’s an adult. If he swears over and over he’s fine, the coach has to listen to that and take that into account. “I wasn’t lying,” said Griffin. “I was able to go out and play, period.”
So I’m not putting the black hat on one man. It’s unfair. But let this be a lesson to this team, and every other one in the league: It’s best to put safeguards in place before something like this threatens the short-term future of the starting quarterback in the heat of a playoff game.
But, for the most part, the commentary after Sunday’s game skewed toward criticism of Shanahan’s handling of Griffin, including Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com.
This is one of those instances when a play, a moment, eclipses the contest, even a playoff game like this one. This dilemma has plagued coaches, and the sport, since football’s birth. How long do you allow an injured, tough player to be, well, injured and tough, before protecting that player from himself? This was an easy test to pass yet Shanahan failed miserably. Washington lost to Seattle, 24-14, for one reason and one reason only: the complete mismanagement of Griffin by Shanahan. Griffin should have been benched at halftime (at the latest), and the fact Shanahan didn’t do it was terrible judgment.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor