Robert Griffin III made very few mistakes in his rookie season with the Washington Redskins until, with the acquiescence of his coach and apparently his doctor, he made an enormous one. He began to think of himself as indispensable. As a result he may be facing the possibility that he is exactly the opposite because of an injury this misjudgment brought about.
His is a textbook example of what is wrong with professional football when those in charge forgo their better instincts and good sense in the short term, producing long-term damage at the expense of players who consider themselves indestructible. That Griffin’s potential as highlighted by a brilliant first year could be shortened by all this is a real tragedy for him, his fans, his sport and the organization that put so much into acquiring and nurturing him — until it didn’t.
Coach Mike Shanahan’s explanation that he thought Griffin’s knee was enough to support another performance because the young man said so when nearly everyone in the stadium and watching on television could tell otherwise was utterly delusional. His action was as irresponsible as any in recent sports memory. It contrasts sharply with the decision of the Washington National’s to limit the number of innings pitched by their wunderkind, Stephen Strasburg, after more than a year of elbow rehabilitation. It may have cost the baseball franchise a place in the World Series but it preserved Strasburg’s potential for a long and fruitful career and his team’s chances to benefit from that.
The injuries to Griffin may ultimately prove as nonthreatening to his future as every Washington fan hopes. But surgery is always a major setback that involves long rehabilitation and often problematic success. The explosive traits that make Griffin so good could be impaired; his game completely changed.