In the absence of information, we are left to connect dots, and connecting the Washington Redskins' dots Monday with regard to the condition of quarterback Robert Griffin III and his injured right knee does not result in a pretty picture.
The first time Griffin injured the knee and they did an MRI, the Redskins were able to tell everyone the next day that it was an injury to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and was among the least severe of the possible ligament injuries. The fear is always that the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is damaged, given that a tear of that ligament can result in a year or more of recovery time. The fact that Mike Shanahan announced in his news conference Monday that Griffin was heading to Alabama for further tests under the supervision of Dr. James Andrews is discouraging for those looking for good news on Griffin's latest injury. That Shanahan referenced the remarkable recovery time of Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson from his ACL injury last year as well as the ACL injury Griffin had in college also leads us to believe that this is in fact an ACL injury and the team is doing further tests to determine how to proceed.
The Washington Post reported late Monday that "Griffin has suffered partial tears of his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, according to several people with knowledge of the test results" and that the further tests are to determine whether the damage is old or new.
If Griffin has to have surgery to repair a torn ACL, the generally accepted best-case recovery time is 8-10 months. The start of the 2013 NFL season is about eight months away. The simple math tells you that an ACL tear in this case puts into question Griffin's availability for some of next year's regular-season games.
Griffin tore the ACL in the same knee in the third game of his 2009 season at Baylor and returned in time to play the 2010 season. But the fact that this would be the same ACL leads one to wonder whether the recovery might take longer this time and whether Griffin's long-term effectiveness as a player (and specifically a runner) might be affected more significantly.
Just as Shanahan's news conference was beginning Monday, Griffin (@RGIII) sent out the following on Twitter:
"When adversity strikes you respond in one of two ways....You step aside and give in..Or you step up and fight."
And again, read into that what you will, but no Redskins fan can feel great about Griffin tweeting of "adversity" on the day his MRI results are coming back.
There has already been, and will continue to be, a great deal of talk about blame. You guys know, if you've been on here at all today, that I believe Shanahan erred in not taking Griffin out of the game. He has explained the reason for his decision and offered that it's possible he was wrong, and at this point it's not going to do too much good to keep harping on fault. If Griffin has in fact injured himself to an extent that puts 2013 regular-season games in jeopardy, that's obviously a shame for him, for Shanahan, for the Redskins and really for anyone who watches football. Griffin is a joy to watch and a pleasure to be around, and although he might have handled this situation a bit clumsily, it says something about him that we're surprised a 22-year-old in his kind of spotlight might handle something clumsily.
The Redskins can soldier on and get by for a while with Kirk Cousins. But Redskins fans who were feeling so wonderful about their 2012-13 season just a little more than 24 hours ago are now left with an impossibly bitter taste about the way it has all ended. And you don't have to be a Redskins fan to wish Griffin better news than it appears he's getting and as speedy a recovery as possible. The game's better with him in it.