The relief in Robert Griffin III’s voice is haunting now. The dramatic irony is one big punch to the Washington Redskins’ collective gut.
Griffin chuckled early in Sunday’s playoff loss to Seattle, hopeful he escaped a serious knee injury. As we know now, he ultimately did not.
Griffin on Wednesday had surgery to revise the reconstruction of the ACL, repair a torn lateral collateral ligament and, and it turns out, also to repair the medial meniscus in his right knee.
As the star rookie quarterback prepared to lead his team onto the field for its third possession in Sunday’s playoff loss to Seattle, left tackle Trent Williams could tell something was wrong with Griffin’s right knee.
On first-and-goal from Seattle’s 4-yard line on the previous series, Griffin planted awkwardly and landed on his right leg while rolling to the sideline to throw a pass. Griffin took his helmet off, appearing to be in pain, and eventually limped back to the huddle. He finished the drive with a touchdown pass two plays later.
Griffin had his knee re-taped on the sideline, he said, and was cleared by doctors to continue playing, according to coach Mike Shanahan. Still, Williams was concerned. He wanted to hear for himself that Griffin was OK.
Williams: “You sure you’re all right, bro?”
Griffin: “Yeah. I’m gonna be safe.”
Williams: “You tweaked it when you were trying to back up?”
Williams: “I seen that.”
Griffin: “My foot kind of went weh-weh (a squeak sound), so—”
Williams: “That kind of shocked you a little bit?”
Griffin: “It scared the [censored] out of me.” Griffin chuckled.
Williams: “All right. Be smart.”
Griffin: “I will. I promise.”
And with that, Griffin re-entered a game he would not complete. With 6:19 remaining in the game, he suffered a severe injury that jeopardizes his availability for the start of the 2013 season. His knee twisted and buckled when he leaned down to try to pick up a fumble. He walked off the field with two torn knee ligaments.
Shanahan has been intensely criticized by local and national media for permitting a hobbled Griffin to remain in the game. The second-guessing begins with the play that prompted Williams’ concern.
Shanahan said team doctors cleared Griffin to remain in the game. And with Griffin insisting he OK to continue, Shanahan allowed it.
“It’s always a tough decision when to pull a guy and when not to,” Shanahan said Sunday after the game. “I talked to him at halftime and had to feel good about him to go back in. He said, ‘Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there,’ and I couldn’t disagree with him.”
Griffin was willing to accept the risk, even after the game.
“I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there, but every time you step on the football field…you’re putting your life, your career, every single ligament in your body in jeopardy,” he said.