I’ve wrestled with this for a while now. I’ve heard opinions from a few sources that I respect and I’ve factored in my own feelings here…so here goes nothing…
I didn’t see the injury live but I saw it on replay a couple of times and it’s hard to watch from certain angles. Seeing RG3’s knee bending in a way that’s not natural hurts me as a fan of football. You never want to see someone you are a fan of hurt himself on the field like this. You can deal with sprained ankles, a thumb hitting a helmet…something they can shake off, tape up and get back on the field to play with but seeing him pitch forward like he did and not be able to make a move for the ball that he’d just fumbled….just plain hurts. It may not hurt as much as Robert’s knee does but you catch my drift here.
I have beef with two nouns in this Redskin scenario….so let’s do this one by one..
My first beef is with the football player mentality.
That football mentality is all about showing grit, toughness and determination in the face of your opponent and even if you’re hurt, you’ve got to push ahead through no matter what. The idea that it’s such a great thing to go out there at less than 100% percent and gut it out for a victory, at no matter the cost to you personally.
I understand the idea of playing through pain. We’ve all gone out to the basketball court, one time or another, and gotten hurt somehow. Maybe a jammed finger going after a loose ball, a rolled ankle coming down from a layup or a rebound, a scrape falling to the asphalt…you’ve felt the pain that comes with it but you get up, shake it off, and you’re back out there, having fun…
From watching the NFL for as long as I have, I’ve learned that these players are out here playing through more than just sprained ankles and jammed fingers. They’re out there with nerve damage from stingers, concussions, strained ligaments, torn groin muscles, torn biceps/triceps/pectorals, broken fingers and/or hands….it’s crazy out there!
I’ve also learned that the injuries they’re playing with could cost the team wins and themselves a shot at providing for themselves and their loved ones down the road because their bodies end up failing them. The very injury that you’re trying to play through could be the very reason you get released in the offseason…..
Robert Griffin showed toughness to his teammates and the fans by gutting out an LCL injury. However, that need to play hurt cost his team a shot at victory. It could also cost him down the road if his knee injury turns out to be very serious.
The NFL brainwashes its players with a mix of loyalty to team (that doesn’t always reward it) and a determination to play….with an extreme fear of losing one’s job at the drop of a hat. These guys run out onto the field with injuries that would cripple mere mortals just to show their employers…”Hey, guys! I’m putting it all on the line for you!” when they could be replaced in a year’s time by a young draft pick in the 5th round..
If there was no money in playing football, playing hurt to earn the respect of your teammates has some appeal. But once you involve dinero, things get dicey because motives become ulterior. Owners have to get money back on their investments. It stops being just about team and more about business, livelihoods and staying employed…..but I digress….
My second beef is with Mike Shanahan.
Late in the 1st quarter, when scrambling to his right and trying to throw a pass across his body to Pierre Garcon , he planted on his right foot and that injured knee buckled a bit. His back hit the grass, off popped his helmet and he looked to be in some major discomfort. RG3 eventually got up, limped back to the huddle slowly, and proceeded to throw a touchdown pass 2 plays later.
The Redskins were up 14-0 over the Seahawks.
And Shanahan should’ve taken him out.
No one doubts the ability of Robert Griffin III. No one doubts his desire to help the team win. We’ve seen him get his bell rung Week 5 during the Falcons game and come back the following week. After Haloti Ngata bent his knee awkwardly with a diving hit 4 Sundays ago, we all saw Griffin’s toughness, with him hobbling back onto the field to lead the team toward the endzone.
In that game versus the Ravens, Shanahan was forced to take RG3 out of the game when the pain became too much and he turned to Kirk Cousins, who pulled out a win for the Redskins.
That happened on Sunday too but Kirk Cousins couldn’t save them this time.
Maybe he thought lightning could strike twice in the same stadium?
I feel Shanahan should have stepped in to save Robert from himself. That football player mentality is strong in him….like the Force. If left to his own devices, RG3 would’ve limped out onto the field, hobbling around like Fred G. Sanford, trying his damnedest to run the offense…..knowing full well he didn’t have speed to run to the outside on designed runs or step into ANY of his throws, which diminished his accuracy for the rest of the game. Because that’s the only way he knows how to play the game. Going all out till they have to drag you off the field….
Shanahan should’ve done what a referee in boxing does after someone hits the canvas. Look him over, see that he couldn’t do what the team needed him to do and sit him down and thank him for everything he’s given to the Redskins for the season…Sit him down and live to play another game. What’s one game when you might not have him potentially for a season?
This situation reminds me of the NFC championship game between the Bears and the Packers when Jay Cutler didn’t come out and play the 2nd half of the game due to a sprained MCL and he got RIPPED for it.. I mean DESTROYED. Fellow NFL players were calling out his toughness, the media had his cojones in a vice and they were applying major pressure. Lovie Smith and Jay’s fellow Bears stuck up for him big time and eventually that pressure died down and went away…
Looking back on that moment and comparing it to Sunday, I have to give major kudos to the absolute SMARTS of Lovie to buck conventional football thought and take the player out if he’s hurting regardless of situation. Lovie may have known that Cutler was the best shot he had at winning the game but with him not being able to play the way he needed, the best bet was to roll with the backup. Shanahan could definitely learn something from that.
(yes, I am aware that the Bears got steamrolled by the Packers with Caleb Hanie leading the offense…just making a point…)
The idea of being dragged off the field like an exhausted warrior who gave it his all is much better fantasy to visualize when you think back on a player’s career. But that’s all it really is.
And I’m gone….