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Making Sense Of RGIII 2.0

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Washington D.C. anxiously awaits Robert Griffin III's recovery and return to the field. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
Washington D.C. anxiously awaits Robert Griffin III's recovery and return to the field. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

A few months have passed since Robert Griffin III’s compromised right knee grotesquely contorted and collapsed under the weight of a franchise, a delusional head coach and the daredevil medical care of one Dr. James Andrews. 

The catastrophic and climatic end to RGIII’s rookie season was a bizarre, multi-act play featuring a player with a raging hero-complex, in-game medical exams in a make-shift shed, a renowned surgeon and two-time Super Bowl winning coach incapable of having a basic conversation and a playing surface that resembled the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, circa 1967.

But I’m over it — clearly.     

Okay, I’m lying. The truth is, I’ve gotten over women, gut-wrenching losses in fantasy football championship games and scathing comments to poorly written articles (you know, the big stuff in life) quicker than this. RGIII’s injury is going to stick with me — the football fan and the writer — until he’s back on the field and showing no visible erosion to his athleticism. 

Until then, I will hold a grudge against Mike Shanahan, Dr. Andrews and his knitted cap, RGIII’s ego, whoever’s in charge of the FedEx Field lawn and Dan Snyder (because he’s required to be blamed for everything) for contributing to the wholly avoidable break down of the most important single football player D.C. has called its own since Sammy Freakin’ Baugh (that middle name might be incorrect).  

Breathe.

So now, we wait and apparently enjoy the propaganda being spewed by the victim and the perpetrators. RGIII is upright again, doing aquatic rehab and boldly shooting comeback commercials. Following its “All In” comeback campaign for Derrick Rose, Adidas, the official shoe of elite athletes with ACL tears (apparently), shoved a fresh out of surgery RGIII in front of the camera and declared the company was not only “All In” for his return, but “All In For Week 1.” The punch line seems a bit bold, but then why let something as silly as logic get in the way of a sales pitch. If you watch the commercial closely, I believe RGIII still has stitches protruding from his knee. 

But again, why quibble?

Brazen optimism from a marketing-driven shoe company is understandable, but a renowned surgeon? Dr. James Andrews, in indirect admiration of his handiwork, recently popped his head out of the operating room and declared that RGIII’s rehab is “way ahead of schedule.” With your or my ACL rehab as the baseline, I’m certain it is. And besides, who are we to question the doctor who signed off on RGIII’s return from the initial injury, then declared he was worried sick about the knee but continued to clear him to play NFL football until the joint exploded? Question that guy? Who do we think we are indeed!

The discretionary voice amidst the ego-based valor has been Mike Shanahan. When pressed about RGIII’s status, Shanahan recently acknowledged that while the reports are positive, it’s “ludicrous” to speculate about his availability entering next season. There goes the “Comeback Kool Aid” down the sink. 

Is anyone out there shocked that Shanahan and Andrews still maintain a slightly altered worldview? Anyone? Bueller? 

Word is even President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are bothered by the coach’s and surgeon’s inability to find common ground and a singular voice. Shanahan went on to say that, ultimately, he’s going to allow the doctors — presumably Andrews — to tell him when RGIII is ready to return. Yikes.

Memo to Dan Snyder: Google “communications guru”, make a call and open your wallet.     

Considering the superhuman recovery of Adrian Peterson from ACL reconstruction, RGIII’s and Andrews’ optimism is understandable; and considering what’s at stake for Mike Shanahan — his coaching legacy — so is his prudence. 

In the end, the contradictory rhetoric from three completely unreliable sources offers absolutely nothing regarding RGIII’s availability for the 2013 season. Time, and only time, will tell this story. While ACL comebacks are common, RGIII’s situation is unique. This was his second ACL repair in the knee, and Andrews also had to tidy up a rare injury to the Lateral Collateral Ligament. 

How will his knee respond to this second and more complicated rebuild? Will the stability and the player’s confidence in the joint ever fully return? More pointedly, will he ever make it back? Time will be the judge and jury.

At age 23, equipped with unquestioned determination and the finest medical care, the Magic 8-Ball and the experienced NFL eye would agree that “signs point to yes.” 

The more pertinent question, though, isn’t if RGIII will return to the field: it’s whether he’ll remain there for any extended duration. That’s up to the player learning to value his availability as much as his ability to make a single play; the coach and doctor establishing professional rapport; and an organization — from top to bottom — treasuring a career over the outcome on a particular Sunday, even if it’s a playoff game. 

Will any of that happen? Again, ignore the words and simply watch. Time will deliver the verdict.