Redskins should take RG III recovery slowly

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
3:50
PM ET
Dr. James Andrews, who performed reconstructive right knee surgery Wednesday morning on Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, has released the following statement (along with, oddly, some photos of the good doctor himself in scrubs that I don't feel compelled to share):
"Robert Griffin III had successful knee surgery early this morning. He had a direct repair of his LCL and a re-do of his previous ACL reconstruction. We expect a full recovery and it is everybody's hope and belief that due to Robert's high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season.

The goal of his treatment is to give him the best opportunity for a long professional career."

My first reaction is that those last two sentences are not necessarily compatible with each other. And that the second one, not the first, really needs to be the Redskins' focus at this point.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Nick WassRobert Griffin III underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee for the second time in four years.
If I'm Mike Shanahan and the Redskins right now, Griffin's ability to be ready for the 2013 season is not my chief concern. In Kirk Cousins, they have a capable backup who surely could handle the first however-many games of the season while Griffin works his way back to 100 percent health. And that's 100 percent this time before he takes a snap in an NFL game. Not 80, not 90, not 99.9. It's got to be 100 this time, or he doesn't play for me.

If I'm Shanahan and the Redskins, Griffin doesn't go back onto a field that has an opposing team on it until every doctor who's looked at that knee assures me it's 100 percent ready to go and every single doctor who will return my phone call assures me he's at no greater risk of reinjuring it than he would be if he'd never hurt it in the first place. The whole "If he's healthy enough to play, he'll play" thing (which I admit I went along with until Griffin clearly reinjured himself in the first quarter Sunday) isn't good enough this time. The chief lesson that has to be learned as a result of this is that the Redskins need to be even more careful with their franchise quarterback than they think they do. If he's my quarterback, I wait until he's cleared by everyone in sight, practices for a week without any trouble, and then I sit him down for one more game after that just so I'm a billion percent sure.

If I'm Shanahan and the Redskins, I don't even let Griffin into my office to try to convince me he's ready. I don't want to hear him on this topic anymore. He's lost that right. We all understand he's a tough kid who wants to play and doesn't want to let his team down. That's great, and it's appreciated. But that bravado is part of what got the Redskins into this mess. It wasn't wrong of Griffin to argue his way back into Sunday's game. It was wrong of Shanahan to let him, and he'd better not let him do it the next time he tries. Griffin will always argue to go back in before he's ready. That's his job, he believes, as a player and a leader of the team. But Shanahan's job is to make the decision that's best for the player, not the one that will make the player the happiest. That's another of the lessons that must be learned here, or else this kid just had his knee rebuilt for the second time in four years for no good reason.

Could Griffin be healthy enough to play in time for the start of the 2013 season? Absolutely, and if he is, good for him and for the Redskins. But if that's their goal right now, I think they're missing the point. The goal for 22-year-old Robert Griffin III right now is that "long professional career" Andrews mentions at the end of his statement. If anything else, including a great 2013 comeback story, is ahead of that on the priority list, then no one learned anything.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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