Days of Our Football Lives: A Robert Griffin III Soap Opera Begins

There are many twists and turns still to come for Robert Griffin III.(Photo by Keith Allison)

There are many twists and turns still to come for Robert Griffin III.
(Photo by Keith Allison)

Last season, there were two primetime injury soap operas competing for our attention. From Peyton Manning’s grainy, Zapruder-like workouts at Duke to monthly updates on which teammate Adrian Peterson was besting in hill sprints, the media relentlessly bird-dogged the rehabilitation and recovery of both players.

The 2013 offseason is shaping up no differently. This time, Robert Griffin III is cast in the starring role. Less than a month after surgery to repair tears in his ACL and LCL, the plot swings and conflicting reports on Griffin’s recovery have already begun.

Immediately after surgery, the orthopedist who first repaired Griffin’s ACL in 2009 reported that Griffin also had damage to his medial meniscus addressed during his January surgery. That, along with concerns voiced by other surgeons that up to 25% of ACLs repaired multiple times fail, had fans worried that Griffin would never again be the player he was in 2012. (FWIW, the 25% failure rate should be considered in proper context. I’d give Griffin — an elite athlete with an elite surgical and rehab team — much better odds than that.)

The pendulum swung again yesterday in New Orleans. Griffin said his rehabilitation was already ahead of schedule and was seen without crutches and with only the “slightest hint of a limp” in his first public appearance since his surgery.

Today, Adam Schefter reports that team sources believe Griffin is likely to open the season on the physically unable to perform list and TV networks want to postpone their decision on nationally televised games until the Redskins have a realistic idea of when Griffin will return to play.

What should we believe?

There’s some amount of truth in each report, but it’s far too early in Griffin’s rehab process to take any of them as medical gospel.

Until we see otherwise, here’s what (I think) we know:

1. Griffin had a very significant knee injury, complicated by the fact that both ligaments had been previously injured.

2. Griffin’s early rehabilitation has gone well enough to allow him to walk comfortably without crutches.

3. Griffin should not be held to the superhuman standard set by Adrian Peterson last season.

4. Griffin will start training camp on the PUP list and be re-evaluated frequently.

Enjoy the many different angles and plot lines Griffin’s story will bring, but – as with Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson – nothing should be considered certain with Griffin until he gets on the field and takes the eye test.

Hopefully, he’ll ace his final exam and join Peterson and Manning as Emmy winners for Best Rehab and Recovery Performance.

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