With injuries to his LCL and ACL, how bad is Robert Griffin III hurt? Will RGIII ever play football again?

It’s looking more and more unlikely.  Several news reports, including herehere and here, are reporting that Robert Griffin III has torn his ACL and LCL.  Coach Mike Shanahan is not saying what the MRI has shown, because he’s hoping for a miracle.  RGIII will get a second opinion today with another well known orthopedic surgeon, James Andrews in Florida.

I strongly suspect that the Redskins coaches know that RGIII has torn (either partially or completely) both ligaments in his right knee.  Didn’t we all know that it was very, very, bad when he took his last fall?  Couldn’t we all see that his knees was bent in a way that no knee bends? (See above picture.)  It reminded me of when LT broke Joe Theisman’s leg, that awful, unnatural, bend in the leg.   I knew it, yet I wasn’t ready to admit it.  Denial can be strong.

RGIII gave Washington such a wonderful season.  It was the first time in over a decade that fans had some hope of the ‘Skins returning to the great team that it once was.  So many people were so buoyed by what RGIII brought to the game. It was so exciting!  We were all so hopeful!  RGIII shirts were the fastest  selling jerseys for any rookie, ever!  More importantly, Griffin has been a wonderful role model for young Americans across the country.  He praises God, he works hard, and has become the team leader by example.  He comes from a strong, military, family with good values.  They have taught him the value of hard work, to always thank God for the gifts that he has received, and how to quietly lead.

During the Seattle game, many, many, people were screaming for Mike Shanahan to be the adult in the room and take RGIII out of the game.   Following the game, the argument was that if we had won, no one would have questioned Shanahan’s decision to leave RGIII in the game.  I disagree.  Even if we had won the game, would anyone argue that it was worth it to lose RGIII, even for one season?  It was obvious that he was hurt and wouldn’t be playing any more games this year, so what was the point of leaving him in?  So that Cousins could face Atlanta?  Really?   Would Atlanta have won by 3 touchdowns or 4?  Shanahan was dead wrong to risk it all by leaving RGIII in the game after it was painfully obvious to everyone that he was injured.

The Redskins wouldn’t be taking RGIII to Florida if they weren’t hoping for a different outcome than what their own experts found.  The Skins hire the best of the best in orthopedic surgeons and MRI equipment.  They know the injuries to RGIII are very, very, bad.  They are hoping against hope for other news but I seriously doubt that they’ll get it.  Even if RGIII has ‘only’ re-torn his ACL, his recovery will be at least a year.  He’ll never be able to play in the same way that he did this year.  If has torn both ligaments, which it sounds like he has,  and needs full reconstruction, he is not likely to ever play football again.  RGIII could have been one of the best players to ever play the game.   There is no justification for what Shanahan did to him.  (These decisions should NEVER be left in the hands of the athlete, they always want to play.  More on that subject here.) That’s exactly why Mike Shanahan is so reluctant to tell us the truth about RGIII’s injuries.  He knows the truth, and knows that he let Griffin stay in the game when he should have taken him out, while costing Griffin his future, and the future of the Redskins.  It’s all on Shanahan.

UPDATE:  Passing the buck has begun. Dr. James Andrew claims he never cleared Griffin to return to the game although Shanahan has said it was Andrews who made the decision.  It appears this has happened before.  


22 thoughts on “With injuries to his LCL and ACL, how bad is Robert Griffin III hurt? Will RGIII ever play football again?

  1. Will he ever play again? Yes.
    Will he be able to play next year? Maybe.

    Tearing your ACL and/or LCL is not an insurmountable injury. Many players have repairs done to one or both tendons and come back fine.

    1. Sara, which players tore their LCL, or both, and came back good as new? I’m looking for some hope here, and not finding it. Thanks!

  2. Read the links. There is no way he’ll play next year.

    Please point to a football player who tore both of his knee ligaments and returned to the game. If you can find such player, did he EVER play to the caliber that he played before? Since the Skins paid so much for RGIII, he could be our third string bench warmer for years to come. But if both ligaments are torn, it’s very unlikely he’ll be anything more than a decent, pocket passer, in a couple of years. We need more than that to lead the team.

  3. Another article on the severity of the injuries, here.

    “the purported murkiness of Griffin’s MRI, whether it shows partial or full tears to his ACL and LCL, is nothing more than rope-a-dope and rationalizing, feeble attempts to excuse the indefensible.”

    And “Somehow the Redskins allowed their top draft choice, their best quarterback in a generation, to hurt his knee three times without adequately protecting their investment. The guess here is that Griffin will be lucky to be fully healthy in a year, and frankly, if he has fully torn the ACL, there is some question as to whether that knee will be quite the same.” It won’t be the same, they never are. If they’re both torn, it’s even worse.

    The entire article is worth a read. I was surprised to learn that their renowned orthopedic guy, James Andrews, was on the sideline and did nothing to stop the carnage. “What was Andrews doing on that sideline, other than wearing a team hat and providing political cover? ” The answer is, Not a damn thing.

  4. There are surgeries to fix ACL and LCL tears. Dude I knew in high school tore his ACL and MCL simultaneously, and became an All American wrestler the next year.

    Several years ago this kind of recovery was about 12 months. As recently as last year (Adrian Peterson), the recovery was about 8 months, which is pretty impressive.

    I’m not sure why you’re even asking the question of whether or not he’ll ever play football again… ACL, MCL, and LCL tears aren’t good, but they would have to be very severe to be career threatening for a 22 year old guy.

    1. We’ll see. If he has torn both, he’ll be out at least a year. Will he be able to scramble and run like he can now? Very doubtful. I suppose he could be a decent, pocket, quarterback since he has a good arm. Wrestling is a bit different than football, and this is the second tear to his ACL, and he’s not in high school. Other than that, yeah, they’re comparable.

      Found any quarterbacks who tore both ligaments and came back good as new in a year or two? I’m sure there must be one. At this point I’d settle for a quarterback who tore one of his ligaments and came back after 8 months or a year and played just as well. At least the Skin’s fans would have some hope after next year.

      My point, what made it worth it to Shanahan to risk losing RGIII for even 8 months, and possibly longer? He knew RGIII was hurt, and he wasn’t playing well. Why leave him in?

    2. First, I wasn’t saying that football and wrestling were the same thing. In fact, my friend hurt his knee playing football, and also made a full recovery there. Second, “He’s not in high school” doesn’t make any sense. Griffin isn’t even to his prime athletic age, which is around 26-28 for most athletes. Third, why wouldn’t he be able to scramble and run after he recovers from surgery? I say again, Adrian Peterson returned from his ACL tear in 8 months and almost broke the single season rushing record this year. Jamaal Charles averaged 5.3 yards per carry this season on the worst team in the NFL after his ACL tear.

      ACL injuries are not that uncommon, and have about a recovery rate of approaching 100%. Just look at the list of people who are current NFL players who have had the injury: Darrell Revis, Tom Brady, Brian Cushing, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Rashad Mendenhall, Phillip Rivers, Wes Welker, Eric Berry. (I should note that all of these players are in the top tier of NFL players.)

      These are the people I’ve found after about 5 minutes of Googling “NFL players who have had ACL tears.” and I’m willing to bet that list is nowhere near all encompassing.

      You also seem to suggest that tearing both the ACL and LCL indicates how much worse his injury was than just an average ACL tear. I would be willing to bet that those people who tear one of the three, will likely also do damage to the others. This also doesn’t include the cartilage in their knee (meniscus). I tore my meniscus and had a 100% recovery. Again, it’s not good, but it’s not like it’s an unheard of injury.

      All of that said: Recovery times are not going to be exactly the same for all athletes. Where someone will recovery from an injury in 2 months, it might take someone 4 months. It varies from person to person. That said, considering Griffin’s athleticism, I’d be willing to bet he’ll recovery on the low end of 12 months. You also have to consider that he’s going to have the best trainers in the world rehabbing his knee, and I assume he’s a hard worker. He will be fine, it will just take time. Yes, he might miss the majority, if not all of next season (depending on the tear), but he will recovery and still be the Redskins premier player.

    3. Why are we comparing LCL tears to ACL tears? You know that they’re not the same and do not have the same recovery times. You know it’s harder to come back from a torn LCL.

  5. I had forgotten: “Early in the season, head coach Mike Shanahan was fined for lying about Griffin’s concussion. Then, there were the conflicting reports over the last few weeks about whether a doctor had cleared the quarterback to play.”http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/01/rg3-has-acl-lcl-tear-following-sunday-s-game-83822.html

  6. AJ, I still don’t see any references to any quarterback who tore both LCL and ALC and returned as good as new. But I sure hope that you are right. We shall see. The silence from the Redskins today speaks volumes, imo.

  7. Washington Post is reporting it’s a torn LCL and RG will have surgery later this week. They have an anonymous source. The surgery will determine if it’s only the LCL and not also the ACL. But the LCL is more problematic anyway and requiring a longer recuperation time. “The outside ligaments are a worse problem. They’re not as predictable as an ACL.””


  8. LL, please don’t make the leap in prognosis when you don’t have all the facts. Sounds like you have him dead a buried already as far as his career. Not even the doctors were sure about what they saw on the MRI. RGIII had surgery this morning. I’m sure there will be a press release from the surgeon soon.

    1. More speculation here. “When he does return, what kind of QB will Griffin be? So much of his game is the fact that he can scramble out of the pocket and bring a different dimension to the quarterback position. Without that superb mobility, RGIII could become simply an average passer.

      His injury was eerily similar to Carson Palmer’s in the 2005 playoffs. On the Cincinnati Bengals’ first play from scrimmage, Palmer suffered tears to his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments after Kimo von Oelhoffen rolled on Palmer’s legs.

      At the time, the Bengals were one of the most exciting teams in the league. Palmer rehabbed like crazy to get back in time for the 2006 season. He was never the same again, and the Bengals never really recovered from that loss.

      The Bengals had to rebuild their team to get back to the playoffs. All of this and Palmer was simply a pocket-passer who had next to no mobility after the injury.

      That’s exactly what I fear, if Griffin returns to football, he’ll never be the same. I hope that I’m wrong.

  9. Shanahan’s absence of judgment was the stupidist mistake i ever saw inn a coach. The minute he saw the player limping, i thought it would be standard operating procedure to take him out – not ask the player……….shanahan s/b fired…………..that too is long overdue…………

    1. Once again, you and I are in complete agreement, except for the part about firing Shanahan. Why is he ‘long overdue’ to be fired? He had a great year. No team will fire a coach who just took them to playoffs, nor should they.

  10. Report I saw last night from Dr. Andrews, who performed the surgery, is that they expect RGIII to make a 100% recovery (what I predicted above.) He also speculated that he could be ready for the start of next season. I think the latter is a bit of wishful thinking, but he could be ready by mid-year.

    Fortunately, it does not look like his career is over.

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