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RG3 has ACL surgery to repair knee; season opener in question

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III on Wednesday morning had surgery to reconstruct the ACL and repair the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, a procedure that could jeopardize his availability for the start of the 2013 season.

Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, expects Griffin to be ready to play next season.

"Robert Griffin III had successful knee surgery early this morning," Andrews said in a statement released by the team Wednesday afternoon. "He had a direct repair of his LCL and a re-do of his previous ACL reconstruction. We expect a full recovery and it is everybody's hope and belief that due to Robert's high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season."

Two orthopedic surgeons not involved in Griffin's procedure said it commonly takes six to nine months to recover from surgery to reconstruct an ACL and repair an LCL. The season begins in September.

"Nothing is ever written in concrete," said Marc Siegel, the orthopedic surgeon for Virginia Tech's athletic teams. "It's a matter of when the kid is ready to play … when he's ready as far as his rehab goes."

The six-to-nine-month timetable would mean Griffin is likely to miss the Redskins' offseason practices and training.

"Thank you for your prayers and support," Griffin tweeted at 7:21 a.m. Wednesday. "I love God, my family, my team, the fans, & I love this game. See you guys next season."

A Redskins spokesman declined further comment.  

Griffin flew to Pensacola, Fla., Tuesday along with some team officials and family members to visit renowned orthopedist James Andrews at his institute there. Because Griffin tore the ACL in 2009, and because he played the final three games of this season through a mildly sprained LCL ligament, Andrews sought to evaluate him more extensively to clarify the results of the MRI exam he had after Sunday's game.

Griffin's ACL was reconstructed in 2009 using a patellar tendon graft.

"That's, in my mind, the gold standard," said Daniel Carr, a Williamsburg, Va.-based orthopedic surgeon who served as the United States Olympic Team's head physician at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Carr has not examined Griffin.

When a reconstructed ACL is torn and must be reconstructed again, orthopedists call it a revision. A patellar tendon graft from Griffin's right knee almost certainly would have been unavailable for the revision procedure, Carr said.

ESPN cited an anonymous team source Wednesday morning in reporting that Andrews would revise Griffin's first ACL reconstruction by using a patellar tendon graft from his left knee.

A knee in which the ACL reconstruction has been revised can suffer long-term effects, such as looseness in the joint.

"Your best chance of the best results, if you have to have an ACL, is always [with] the first one, not necessarily the second one," Carr said.

"I would tell you I think there would always be a difference on that knee. The players he plays with and the players he plays against may not notice that, but you as a physician and trainer in examining that athlete will always sort of say, 'Wow, it's a little different than what it was,'" Carr said.

Added Siegel: "Whenever you have this done, you never have a normal knee. You never have a knee that's 100 percent. You may have an athlete that gets back Adrian Peterson-style and is able to compete and looks good, but … I think it would be unusual for him to feel great, like he has a normal knee."

Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton, New York Giants receiver Domenik Hixon and Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis each returned to the NFL after tearing one of their ACLs more than once.

Griffin aggravated his mildly sprained LCL in the first quarter of Sunday's playoff loss to Seattle. Coach Mike Shanahan, however, said team doctors cleared Griffin to return.

Griffin also insisted on returning, and Shanahan allowed him to, saying Griffin had earned the right to determine his status because of how well he played during his rookie season and his knowledge of his own body.

Shanahan has been heavily scrutinized by local and national media for allowing Griffin to remain in the game. He talked to team doctors "three or four times" during the game about Griffin's condition, he said Monday. Andrews was on the Redskins' sideline Sunday..

"Any time he gets hit, on the sideline I had all the doctors come up and we talked as a group," Shanahan said.

"Robert is our franchise quarterback, and I'm not going to take a chance on his career to win a game, but I also know that when you got the belief in a guy and you feel that he can play at a certain level and a doctor is telling you he's OK to go in, then you've got to do what you think is right," Shanahan said. "If I didn't think it was right, he wouldn't have been in there. It's just that simple."

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