Robert Griffin III didn’t have to find his helmet Saturday.
He wasn’t getting ready for today’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Instead, he was on Twitter.
“What’s good people? All is well. Thank you for your prayers, good vibes, & well wishes,” the Redskins quarterback and former Copperas Cove star tweeted Saturday.
Griffin had reconstructive ACL surgery Wednesday after re-injuring his right knee in last Sunday’s playoff loss to Seattle. And while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday he doesn’t have a problem with the way the Washington Redskins medical staff handled Griffin’s knee injury, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan should not have let Griffin play after it was clear he was hurt.
Goodell said it was a “medical decision” and noted Griffin had no problem with it, either.
But no quarterback would have. Not after Jay Cutler was blasted for not playing it out in the 2011 NFC title game loss to the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury.
Cutler exited the game with the Bears trailing 14-0 early in the third quarter, and fellow NFL players questioned Cutler’s toughness on Twitter during the game. ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning QB Trent Dilfer called him out after the game.
“You can play this position (QB) hurt,” Dilfer said on ESPN. “Some of us have.”
But the Bears made the right decision. Cutler wasn’t hurt any worse and Chicago had little shot at winning that game with him hobbling around.
Last Sunday, Griffin needed to be pulled, too.
It was a decision even Art Briles would have made.
When Griffin was knocked silly on a first-quarter scramble against Texas Tech during Griffin’s 2011 Heisman season at Baylor, he returned soon after to score his second touchdown.
But it was clear Griffin was off. The trainers thought he might have a concussion. So the training staff decided to hold him out for the rest of the game, and head trainer Mike Sims went as far as to hide Griffin’s helmet.
While Griffin languished on the sideline, former starter Nick Florence took over and led Baylor to a 66-42 shootout win with a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes.
Monday after the loss, Griffin tweeted: “When adversity strikes you respond in one of two ways....You step aside and give in..Or you step up and fight.”
But as an NFL quarterback you can’t impersonate Willis Reed in the 1970 NBA Finals. A quarterback can’t inspire his team when he is laying in a crumpled heap.
Griffin looked good for the first two series. Then he tweaked his leg as he was knocked out of bounds throwing a pass. For a moment, Griffin took his helmet off.
He should have kept it off. He knew the danger. Still, he put it back on and Shanahan let him.
At that point, maybe he was OK. On the next play, Griffin threw a short touchdown pass to put the Redskins up 14-0.
However, Seattle rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin Griffin hit him late after the touchdown and Griffin went down hard. The play was dirty, unsportsmanlike and unnecessary, but it possibly won the Seahawks the game.
From that moment on, Griffin was a liability to his team. He couldn’t plant on his right leg or accurately throw the football downfield — his best attribute as a passer.
He couldn’t run either. Watching him limp for a 9-yard gain, one had to wonder why he stayed in the game.
The decision to stay in the game certainly was not a good medical decision nor was it a good football decision.
It was a decision made by Griffin’s desire to play and to prove he is the best.
Griffin did not give the Redskins the best opportunity to win.
Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins did. Cousins had already proved that when he torched the Cleveland Browns for more than 300 yards earlier in the year.
If Shanahan wants to win a Super Bowl without John Elway, he has to remember that he is in charge. Not his dynamic quarterback.
Griffin stated if the coaching staff had tried to sit him, he would’ve run back onto the field. With his team leading for the overwhelming majority of the game and his star quarterback defiant, Shanahan made the wrong decision.
Griffin was humbled the last time he suffered an ACL injury. It made him into the man he is today, it made him into a Heisman Trophy winner.
Now he is going to have to grow again and it is going to require even more humility and self-awareness. Griffin needs to learn to stand on the sideline and watch. He needs to learn that at 100 percent Kirk Cousins is better than he is at 50 percent. Yes, at 80 percent Griffin is probably still better and that line is hard to determine.
But he was not close to that last Sunday.
He was a shell — a hobbled, beaten-up quarterback.
And he should have been on the sideline, his helmet nowhere to be found.