Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (RGIII) will undergo a “complete reconstruction” of his knee to repair a torn LCL, and ACL on Wednesday, according to various reports. The surgery, will be performed of course by a man whose name sports fans only hear when an athlete is injured; Dr. James Andrews.
On Monday while football fans and media alike asked some valid questions of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan’s handling of Robert Griffin III’s knee injury, reports surfaced that Dr. James Andrews, the undisputed authority on ligament injuries, was not in fact given the chance to examine Griffin before he found himself back in the huddle for the Redskins.
“I didn’t get to examine [Griffin's knee] because he came out for one play, didn’t let us look at him and on the next play, he ran through all the players and back out onto the field,” said Andrews of the situation on the sidelines when RGIII initially injured the knee against the Ravens in week 14.
“Coach Shanahan looks at me like, ‘Is he OK?’ and I give him the ‘Hi’ sign as in, ‘He’s running around, so I guess he’s OK.’ But I didn’t get to check him out until after the game.” Added Dr. Andrews.
Griffin was ultimately cleared to play by team doctors who according to Shanahan included Dr. Andrews though the FOX broadcast of Sunday’s wildcard game reminded viewers who saw a clearly injured RGIII play well below his abilities, that Andrews had expressed concern for RGIII.
The reconstruction of RGIII’s LCL and ACL, will likely be one of the highest profile surgeries and most scrutinized injuries in recent history. That is saying a lot for a man who has performed ligament surgeries for Roger Clemens, Charles Barkley, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and Emmitt Smith among many many more.
In his new book, “Any Given Monday,” which hit bookshelves January 8; Dr. Andrews describes an epidemic of injuries among athletes in America. The confusion and lack of coordination that occurred on the Redskins sideline when Griffin suffered the injury is precisely the type of thing he aims to end in sports at all levels with his new book.
It appears as though seeing Griffin on the field was good enough evidence that he was ready to play for Shanahan, but it odd does seem odd that he didn’t seem to question Griffins health or insist on getting confirmation that Dr. Andrews had examined him. Perhaps it’s a situation of the Redskins’ coach not want to ask questions he doesn’t want to know the answer to. We will never know how much more damage was done to RGIII’s knee after continuing to play, and I doubt the NFL will be too happy about another player with a chronic injury being permitted to step back on the field before he is ready only to be carried off for the entire country to question how serious the league is on player safety.
Although it is hard to imagine anyone, even Shanahan, not taking the advice of Dr. Andrews, who Sports Illustrated calls one of the “Most Powerful People in the NFL,” one cannot absolve Griffin of his own negligence. Players will always feel the need to play through pain and fulfill their commitment to their team, but running back onto the field before being properly examined by Dr. Andrews, and being sent back into the game by his head coach, is akin to mutiny. Football is a game that has a chain of command, and Griffin broke it, went rogue and tomorrow afternoon when he wakes up with a newly reconstructed knee perhaps he will have learned his lesson.