Robert Griffin III has a hurt knee. We know that. How critical the injury will be to his future playing ability remains to be seen. But the debate in Washington (and beyond) today is: Who’s to blame for the injury? After attending Sunday’s game and spending an evening, night, and morning absorbed in network television analysis, radio sports talk shows, tweets, blogs, and newspaper columns, we find the conventional wisdom breaks down this way, and in this order.
1) Mike Shanahan. He’s the coach. No matter what RG3 said at his postgame news conference about being hell-bent on playing regardless of what the coach said, the coach is still the boss and should make that call. People who blame Shanahan say he should have pulled Griffin after the first quarter, during which he was visibly hobbling. They also believe he should have taken better care of the team’s prize player throughout the season, and maybe even take a page from the Nationals’ playbook, where general manager Davey Johnson pulled pitcher Stephen Strasburg when doctors said he should, as Strasburg continued to recover from Tommy John surgery.
2) Robert Griffin III. He’s quarterback and team captain, and it’s his knee, but he’s also young, a rookie, and passionate about fulfilling his responsibilities. These are admirable qualities, but people who blame Griffin feel he was a little too passionate, should have put his overall long-term health first, and, as the patient, was not the best judge of the severity of his injuries. Maybe Griffin needs to be a little less stubborn. Yes, he’d been getting the job done over the past few weeks, but at what cost?
3) Dan Snyder. The team’s principal owner has been given a lot of credit for stepping back this season and letting the Shanahans run the game, but maybe he stepped back too far. Maybe Mike and Kyle Shanahan shouldn’t be given too much freedom. People who blame Snyder use the classic “The buck stops here,” and also ask, “What was up with the playing field?” In person and on television it was hard to ignore that it looked worn and torn.
4) The Seattle Seahawks. They didn’t cause Griffin’s injury, but the desire to beat them caused him to play as he did.
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