By halftime of Saturday’s NFC wildcard game it was clear RG3 should not have been on the field. Start the game maybe, but leave him in until he goes down in a heap with Two torn ligaments, no way. I’m astonished by the level of non-accountability on behalf of the Redskins, and I’m more speechless by the lack of discussion around the fact that somebody messed up royally, as it relates to the supervision of the young superstar’s health.
For me, the blame lies squarely in the lap of head coach Mike Shanahan. I don’t assign any blame to Owner Daniel Snyder because his track record shows, his remedy for fixing problems is to throw money at them. The Redskins are billionaire Snyder’s toy, obviously the type of toy he doesn’t care about being broken. Was it arrogance that kept Shanahan from making the switch? Did he think RG3 was really Superman, and he was going to make a romantic comeback, ready for film? Maybe it was cowardice that stopped the hook? Could it be the coach didn’t have the stones to say, give me the ball kid; live to fight another day? Was it passion? Was Shanahan blinded by the coaching accolades that would have flowed, by making it to the second round of the playoffs with a rookie QB. He would have been hailed an instant guru again, and all the losing seasons Shanahan has suffered after his success with Elway in Denver would have been erased. Dr. Jack Ramsey once said, “Winning is the best deodorant.”
It was obvious that the Redskin’s PR department was in full spin mode after the game, and I felt like my intelligence was being insulted by much of what I heard. Shanahan, the boss, acted like it was Griffin’s fault for what happened. “He said he was ok,” Shanahan said of asking RG3 if he could play. RG3 is not a veteran player. He’s a rookie who knows nothing about the deep waters he was swimming in on Sunday. He’s a baby fresh out of college. Have you ever seen a boxer throw in the towel himself? The trainer takes responsibility for the safety of the fighter, who may have too much pride to admit he’s whipped. Wasn’t Kurt Cousins drafted in case this very scenario materialized?
The most damaging evidence against the coach saying he relied on the player to make the decision to continue, though a bit suspicious in its timing, was Dr. James Andrew’s comments to USA Today, prior to the game. I feel he exposed something much deeper than a situation where the wrong choice was made in the heat of battle. Andrews, The orthopedic surgeon who wrote the book on treating these type of injuries said. â€œIâ€™ve been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has. Heâ€™s doing a lot better this week, but heâ€™s still recovering and Iâ€™m holding my breath because of it.
â€œHe passed all the tests and all the functional things we do, but itâ€™s been a trying moment for me, to be honest with you.” His statements seem to imply there was much more information to suggest Shanahan and the Redskins knew RG3’s injury was worse than previously reported.
Many blame RG3. They say the blame is all on him for continuing to play. The phrase young and dumb comes to the tip of my tongue on that one. The NFL holds special rookie seminars to address issues that young player are vulnerable to, due to their inexperience with the demands of being a pro football player. Maybe the consequences of playing when it’s detrimental to your long-term future, needs to be added to the list of topics covered. Griffin confirmed his own naivety in his post game interview, as well. He seemed to believe; he is Superman. He remarked arrogantly, “I thought that I was the best option for the team.” Lets keep it real, RG3 was limping wearing a knee harness, in an NFL game? He wasn’t helping the team he was hurting the team by being out there. Again, youth comes with a sense of indestructibility. That’s a universal truth. So we have to imagine how that feeling gets intensified if every time you turn on the TV you see yourself in ads on every channel. That’s gotta be like rocket fuel for the ego. When he made his post game statements; he spoke in cliched language and seemed to be saying what he thought others wanted to hear. He was trying too hard to look more in control than his age or playing experience proves. RG3 had been very vocal about not wanting to be defined by stereotypes. However, he played himself into one anyway, the one about the big strong jock not wanting to look soft in front of everybody.
However you try to bury this one, it still stinks. As fans we hate the new rules the NFL has been instituting, and we feel like its not the game we grew up on anymore. This situation highlights the very reason why commissioner Goodell has been cleansing the game of blows to the head, and why new protocols have been put in place to protect athletes all the way down to the pee-wee level. Now, I can see clearly what I couldn’t before Sunday. The rules aren’t to punish the fans. The rules are for the players, who will apparently kill themselves to make a play or a dollar, and the organizations that will stand by idly and let them do it.