The Washington Times - March 30, 2013, 06:45PM

Everyone knows how important it is for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to preserve his health after he had his second reconstructive right knee surgery in January. And on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center, President Obama made sure he got the message.

In a face-to-face meeting during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament East Region final between Syracuse and Marquette, Obama spoke to Griffin about “protecting myself,” Griffin said.

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Griffin spoke to a reporter as security whisked him, his fiancee and his sister through hordes of camera phone-holding fans out of the arena to street level moments after Syracuse completed its 55-39 victory. There was no opportunity for a follow-up question. Griffin winked before he turned and hurried ahead.

Griffin and his family were absent from their seats in the third row at half court from about the 5-minute mark of the first half until a few minutes into the second half. Shortly after the game started, Obama was pictured on the arena’s videoboard.

After halftime, the Twitter handle @_JakeRussell published a picture of the meeting between Obama and Griffin. The identity of the photographer was not known by the Washington Times, and the author of the Twitter account tweeted he did not take the photo. 

Griffin met Obama once before at the National Prayer Breakfast in Feb. 2012.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan at the NFL annual meetings last week repeatedly said Griffin must learn to better protect himself after he returns from the right knee ACL revision surgery he had in January. Shanahan wants Griffin to play with a better sense of when to throw the ball away and when to slide.

Griffin was injured twice while scrambling during his rookie season. The first time he suffered a concussion, and the second time he sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee.