Washington Redskins Share Blame in Injury to Robert Griffin III

By Vincent Frank on Wednesday, January 9th 2013
Washington Redskins Share Blame in Injury to Robert Griffin III

Like any commentary piece here at eDraft, this article represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily other members of the eDraft team or its affiliations.

And there it is. Leading candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Robert Griffin III, is going to have to undergo "total reconstruction of his knee for complete tear of the ACL and LCL. 

Before ESPN's Chris Mortensen broke this news early Wednesday morning most of us had come to some sort of conclusion that something was terribly wrong with RGIII. After all, he looked about as nimble as a fat guy at a taco stand against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Not only was the rookie quarterback lacking the necessary mobility to make plays with his legs, he was in obvious pain up until finally being pulled in lieu of Kirk Cousins during garbage time. 

With injuries like this you can blame a wide array of different people and situations. Dumb luck is usually the first thing that comes to mind (Adrian Peterson in December of 2011). There was also a lot of talk about the field conditions in D.C. during the wildcard playoff game. While both of these things played a factor, blame must be directed at the entire Washington Redskins organization, from top to bottom, for their complete disregard of logic. 

Instead of shutting RGIII down following a "knee sprain" against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13, Washington decided it was best to go for broke with the face of its franchise. Without much of a shot at actually winning the Super Bowl, it made the decision to risk the long-term health of one of the most electrifying young players in the history of the National Football League. 

It wasn't just a bad football move on the part of Washington, it represented exactly what is wrong with the sport that we all love. Do the powers to be actually give a darn about the football players that give their blood, sweat and tears for the franchise? Is it all about "my own bottom line?" After all, the head coach (Mike Shanahan) and general manager (Bruce Allen) were in must-win mode. Another losing season in Washington and their jobs might have been in jeopardy. 

It was like playing football on a field of live grenades. Something was going to pop up and nail RGIII before all was said and done on Sunday. If we saw this on the television, why couldn't they? What about when noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews took RGIII inside during the game for lord knows what? We all wish we could have been a fly on the wall for that conversation. 

In the opinion of this humble writer, both Shanahan and Allen should be relieved of their duties immediately. The sanctity of trust between the player and his organization came to a crashing halt in D.C. on Sunday. No, I am not talking about this "pie in the sky" mentality that they are family members who would go to bat for one another clear across the world and give a limb for their brother. Instead, I am talking about the sanctity of trust as it relates to the player knowing that his coach, his general manager and his medical staff will do what is best for him. 

That was not on display on Sunday at FedEx Field. Instead, it was all about winning in the moment at the possible cost of someone's lively hood. Reality sets in that Washington's entire philosophy was nothing less barbaric than Roman leaders who would throw condemned criminals in the arena against trained gladiators for pure enjoyment. The only difference here being that an entire nation was able to catch the spectacle. 

Jamie Dukes over at the NFL Network echoed these sentiments immediately following the game before Mortensen reported the troubling news Wednesday morning. The analyst called for a "congressional investigation," in a tongue and cheek manner, as to whether Shanahan was being upfront about the injury in his post game presser. 

Dukes went on to say, "I was amazed that the coach went from one thing to the next." Well, he couldn't have been more right. 

Prior to the playoffs, Shanahan indicated that he let RGIII go back into the game ( vs. Ravens, 12/9/12), only with the blessing of Dr. Andrews, who later told USA Today that he never cleared the quarterback to go back in against Baltimore in Week 13. 

"(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."

Andrews, who performed Peterson's knee surgery in December of 2011 and has been among the most respected doctors in the United States, later went on to say this about accountability. 

"...It's the team's responsibility to ensure that its star player stayed healthy for his entire career. "He's a competitor....He didn't want to let his team down."

Why would Shanahan lie about something like this? Was it because he was hiding something? After all, Dr. Andrews, who isn't on the Redskins payroll, had absolutely no reason to redirect the truth in a situation like this. 

While Andrews did go on to say that Shanahan "would never put an unhealthy player back in," this smells of something more than a common miscommunication between the doctor and coach on the sideline. 

For his part, Shanahan seems to dismiss the idea or notion that he would overrule a doctor. 

“You’d have to be a complete idiot to think I would overrule our doctors. That’s ludicrous. If someone were to do that, they should be fired." 

Is Shanahan indicating that he should be fired? Is he "doubling down on his claims, insisting in no uncertain terms that he has made Griffin’s health his top priority," as Michael David Smith at NBC Sports seems to suggest? 

If Shanahan was seriously making the health of his player "a top priority" wouldn't he have noticed something was rotten in Denmark? After all, everyone that I was communicating with during the game, only one of whom was actually at the game, could see that RGIII was injured, not hurt, which are two completely different terms. 

With the knee sprain that RGIII suffered Week 13 against Baltimore, he was even more vulnerable of suffering something as catastrophic as what actually happened on Sunday. One hit, one piece of sod coming up from the turf, an awkward slide, or gimpy scramble... Any one of those things could have meant serious injury for RGIII. 

It doesn't take a doctor to figure this out. You don't have to have experience taking a knife to a patients kneed to realize that RGIII was nowhere near ready to return from said injury. A coach with 28 years of NFL experience should no more than the average fan watching the game what was going to be the end result of pushing RGIII to the brink. Moreover, a coach that coordinated some of the greatest quarterbacks such as: Joe Montana, Steve Young and John Elway, should know this more than your average head man. 

Of course we are going to go through an offseason filled with "what if's?" and "innuendos" of who is to blame for this catrastrophic injury. We shouldn't have to, however. 

Shanahan should be shown the door quicker than a D.C. employee tapping his foot twice in a mens bathroom. I am not indicating that Shanahan purposely put RGIII out there knowing he had a torn ACL and LCL. No, that would make me "a complete idiot," as Washington's coach suggests. 

Instead, I am saying right now that he showed a complete lack of common sense in the face of pressure to win. That he became so infatuated with winning that he lost site of the long-term goals of the franchise. In short, Shanahan did the Redskins and his quarterback a diserveice by showing complete ineptitude in managing his team and his franchise. 

After all, RGIII now has to suffer through a grueling 6-8 month' recovery in large part due to the fact that his head coach, the man he entrusts with his health, acted the part of a true "idiot." 

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