By any measure, the rehabilitation of the quarterback with an affinity for Superman socks has verged on, well, superhuman.
So has the unnecessary, unending drama that’s turned each step of Robert Griffin III’s recovery from surgery to revise the reconstruction of the ACL in his right knee into an experience better suited for afternoon soap operas.
When Griffin starts Monday night’s season-opener against the Eagles, the long-expected move Mike Shanahan confirmed Monday afternoon, the season will be as much about rebuilding eroded trust as regaining confidence in the repaired right knee.
Take one head-shaking 24-hour period last week that’s typical of the low-grade conflict and ham-handed communication the involved parties can’t seem to escape.
On Thursday, Dr. James Andrews cleared Griffin to return eight months after the knee buckled into FedEx Field’s battered turf against the Seahawks. This should have triggered celebration, right?
Griffin’s rightful sense of accomplishment after months of effort — including workouts during his July honeymoon in France — shone through his tweet that night: “Operation Patience. … Complete. Cleared. To God Be The Glory.”
Then at the news conference following Thursday’s preseason game in Tampa, Fla., Shanahan shoved those good feelings off course by mentioning “a couple concerns” Andrews had about Griffin’s return and wouldn’t commit to the quarterback starting the season-opener. The coach didn’t detail the concerns or why they were concerning enough to mention to assembled reporters, but not serious enough to keep Griffin from being cleared.
So much for any celebration.
A series of tweets from ESPN’s Trey Wingo followed: “sources telling me the “concerns” about [Griffin] have less to do with health of the knee, much more on how the team plans to use him.” That brought back dissatisfaction Griffin’s father expressed back in May — and his son never denied — about the Redskins running Griffin too much instead of developing him as a pocket passer.
To add to the confusion, Andrews denied the existence of such concerns in a Friday text message to our Redskins beat writer Brian McNally.
“Not true,” the doctor wrote. “Team will use him appropriately. No concerns. No further comments except from team.”
Shanahan attempted to end the latest minicontroversy Monday: “You’ll have to trust us that the doctor feels good about it regardless of what those concerns were.” Why he introduced a word as loaded as ‘concerns’ in the first place wasn’t addressed. Days before the opener, when one would expect the focus to be on Griffin’s ferocious, successful rehabilitation, the disconnect between coach and quarterback only looked wider.
The confused back-and-forth isn’t new. And perhaps the dissonance isn’t surprising when two men as stubborn, hypercompetitive and ego-driven as Shanahan and Griffin are involved. The result, though, makes the organization look adrift.
After Griffin first injured the knee against the Ravens, he tried to remain in the game despite hobbling on one leg, then sulked through the postgame news conference when he didn’t play in Cleveland the next week. The well-chronicled debate over remaining on the field while barely able to walk in the playoff loss to the Seahawks followed.