The knee injury suffered -- and re-suffered -- by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III against the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday afternoon's wild-card loss could very well be serious enough to keep the star player out for a significant period of time.
As reported by the Washington Post, Griffin was diagnosed by Dr. James Andrews with a torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. There is also believed to be damage to Griffin's anterior cruciate ligament, but that will not be determined until Dr. Andrews performs the surgery on Griffin's LCL. That procedure is expected to take place in the next few days. Andrews would then determine if ACL surgery will be necessary. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Tuesday evening that Griffin will undergo total re-constructive surgery on his right knee, and that the recovery time will be 6-8 months barring any setbacks, but that has not been confirmed by the team or by Griffin's doctors.
However, it was confirmed to a point by Griffin himself via Twitter:
Thank you for your prayers and support. I love God, my family, my team, the fans, & I love this game. See you guys next season.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has been heavily criticized for his handling of Griffin's knee injury, which first happened in a Week 14 overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens. Griffin returned for the last two games of the regular season and the wild-card game against Seattle, but he was clearly impacted by the knee injury. In the first quarter of the Seahawks game, Griffin's knee buckled in the turf at FedEx Field, and from that point through the fourth quarter, the injury certainly seemed even worse -- Griffin could barely run and could not consistently plant on his back foot to throw. When Griffin's knee took another bad turn late in the fourth quarter, Shanahan finally took Griffin off the field and replaced him with Kirk Cousins.
[Related: What was Mike Shanahan thinking playing RG3?]
James C. Dreese, a doctor for the University of Maryland athletic teams who is not affiliated with the Redskins, told the Post that the recovery for an LCL surgery generally takes longer than one for an ACL injury.
“When the collateral ligaments are involved,” Dreese said, “the concern in the long term is that controlling the rotational component of the knee can be more difficult.”
The controversy surrounding Shanahan's handling began in earnest when Andrews told Robert Klemko of USA Today Sports that he disputed the coach's account about Griffin's readiness to re-enter the Baltimore game. Andrews later backed Shanahan's story in a conversation with the Post.
“Coach Shanahan didn’t lie about it, and I didn’t lie,” Andrews said on Monday. “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. 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. It was just a communication problem. Heat of battle. I didn’t get to tell him I didn’t get to examine the knee. Mike Shanahan would never have put him out there at risk just to win a game.”
Andrews was already famous for his ability to help athletes recover from knee injuries. But when he operated on the knee of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in December 2011 after Peterson tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, and Peterson returned in 2012 to rush for over 2,000 yards and fall just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season record for rushing yardage, Andrews' prowess -- and the technology allowing players to return from serious knee injuries -- was seen to be in a different dimension.
"He has defied all odds," Andrews told the Pioneer Press of Peterson last week. "Somebody asked me about him a bunch of different times with all he's been able to accomplish. My pat answer is, 'If you operate on the right athlete, it makes you look pretty darn good as a physician.' Adrian was that genetic athlete who could do what he's done. There are a few I've treated. One of them was Bo Jackson. Bo was a natural athlete. He didn't have to lift weights growing up. Adrian Peterson is like that. I was a nervous wreck watching him play game after game this season. I was on the Washington Redskins' sideline when the Vikings played them, and every time he'd get tackled I'd shudder."
[Photos: RG3 injured]
Now, we can but wait and see if Griffin can defy those odds.
“What you can see on that video is that it looks like the knee failed in both the hinge mechanism and the rotational mechanism,” Dreese said of Griffin's injury. “That would suggest an ACL injury, but the MRI will be definitive.”
Griffin tore his right ACL while at Baylor in 2009 and had it surgically repaired. He played in 2010 and 2011 with no evident residual effects.
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