Gambling with Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's future is coach Mike Shanahan's Folly
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during their NFL NFC wildcard playoff game in Landover, Maryland January 6, 2013. (LAURENCE KESTERSON/Reuters)
The Washington Redskins got some short-term gain with their decision to play Robert Griffin III, but it may end up costing the quarterback some long-term pain.
Griffin, who twisted his knee in grotesque fashion Sunday in Washington's loss to Seattle, had an MRI on Monday.
Conclusion: Knees don't bend this way.
The tests failed to solve the dilemma of how seriously he has reinjured the knee he hurt twice Sunday, and once before on Dec. 9. The MRI proved inconclusive because of a previous ligament tear he suffered in college.
"Honestly, it's up in the air right now." Griffin said. "I know coming off the field I thought it was just the same thing (a sprained LCL). But right now, we'll see what it is."
However it turns out, this is no way to treat football's version of a Ming vase.
Sure, Griffin said he wanted to play. But there are reasons generals, presidents and prime ministers don't lead their armies into battle. And, this was one battle that Griffin should not have fought. Someone should have protected Griffin from himself. Someone should have told him a football field is no place for someone who had only one leg on which to stand.
But head coach Mike Shanahan did not do any of those things. There may be regrets.
So, Tuesday it's off to see orthopedist James Andrews, who will try to put Griffin together again for next season.
That would be the same Andrews caught up in a whirlwind of controversy since he told USA Today on the weekend that he never gave medical clearance for Griffin to return in the Dec. 9 game after being injured against the Baltimore Ravens. Shanahan told reporters that the rookie had been cleared.
According to Andrews, "(Griffin) came off the field, circled through the players with helmet on and went immediately back in the game without anyone -- trainers or medical staff -- getting close to him, much less examining him. No one to blame. A communication problem under the circumstances. I had no chance to clear him."
According to Shanahan, he recalled having a brief conversation with Andrews on Dec. 9, in which the doctor indicated that he "figured" Griffin was OK after seeing him jog around.
Griffin didn't play the next week, but returned the following week against Philadelphia. Andrews -- on the sidelines for the playoff game against Seattle -- told the newspaper: "I've been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has."
And, now, there's a lot more to be nervous about.
A franchise quarterback's future hangs in limbo.
There has been speculation Griffin suffered more than a sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament against the Ravens, even though the Redskins claimed there was "no structural damage."
However serious the original injury, it certainly was exacerbated by what happened against Seattle. A strained ACL will heal on its own.
If he has now torn the same ligament for the second time in his career it will mean a long rehabilitation and according to the Washington Post, even though the club isn't admitting as much, the MRI conducted on Griffin's right knee Monday suggests that he has suffered at least partial tears of his ACL and LCL.
After limping through much of the game, Griffin's heavily braced right knee buckled as he strained to field a bad shotgun snap in the fourth quarter. He lay on the ground as many fans stood in silence, hands covering their faces.
"If you didn't pull him out then, you should get fired," Shanahan said.
Maybe he should have thought of that sooner.
Griffin took the Redskins from a five-win season to the NFC East championship. This franchise finally had its quarterback of the future.
Now that future looks a little less certain. Griffin tore the ACL in his knee while playing for Baylor in 2009. If Andrews has to once again stitch and sew, it likely means nine to 12 months of rehabilitation. That puts next season -- perhaps even Griffin's legacy -- in jeopardy.
The Redskins might have won Sunday with a healthy Griffin. But, even then, they weren't going to win a Super Bowl. Not yet. And, certainly not with Griffin barely having a leg on which to stand.
Which makes gambling with his future, and the Redskins' future, Shanahan's Folly. And, it could also ultimately be his own undoing. Not now. Not next season. But, if Griffin comes back a lesser version of himself, sometime soon.
Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka injured his left calf Sunday and the club has Neil Rackers and Ryan Longwell in for tryouts in case Hauschka can't play ... Broncos running back Willis McGahee is eligible to begin practicing tomorrow and says its possible he could play in an AFC championship game.