Skip to main content

Redskins should have stopped RGIII

By Jeff Pearlman, Special to CNN
January 7, 2013 -- Updated 2135 GMT (0535 HKT)
The Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III lies injured in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks.
The Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III lies injured in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jeff Pearlman: We do things when we're young and foolish; wiser heads try to stop us
  • On Sunday, Redskins quarterback stayed in the game, worsening a leg injury
  • He says coach let him go back in; Seahawks saw weakness, pummeled him
  • Pearlman: Shanahan shouldn't have let him play; too many players ruined like this

Editor's note: Jeff Pearlman is the author of "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton." He blogs at jeffpearlman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- One night, back when I was Robert Griffin III's age, I drank six glasses of grain alcohol mixed with grape-flavored Juicy Juice. My roommate Anthony said it was a bad idea. My other roommate, Chris, also said it was a bad idea. My closest friend, Daniel, insisted it wasn't merely a bad idea but the worst idea ever. "You barely touch booze," he said. "This won't end well."

"Quiet," I replied. "I can handle it."

That night, in room 102 of Russell Hall A at the University of Delaware, I vomited into a toilet for 45 straight minutes. Anthony, who was kindly holding up my head as the cool water reflected onto my face, repeatedly muttered, "I told you so. ... I told you so."

Jeff Pearlman
Jeff Pearlman

Alas, I was but a child. I lacked the maturity and wisdom to know what was for my own good.

Sunday evening, during his team's 24-14 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Griffin, the Washington Redskins' star rookie quarterback, insisted on remaining in the game despite being tossed around like a Raggedy Andy doll with the stuffing yanked out of its legs. During the first half, Griffin reinjured his previously sprained right knee after falling awkwardly while rolling out of the pocket. He rose gingerly and moments later could be seen behind the Redskins' bench, having tape applied.

This was nothing new for the kid. Earlier this season, in a December 9 game against the Ravens, Griffin sprained his lateral collateral ligament, missed the following week and returned with an awkwardly fitted black brace wrapped around the knee.

SI: First slowed and then silenced, RGIII injury spells end for Redskins

This time, with the season on the line, Griffin and Mike Shanahan, Washington's coach, engaged in a halftime conversation. According to Shanahan, the quarterback told him, "Coach, there's a difference between being injured and hurt. I can guarantee you I'm hurt right now. Give me a chance to win this football game, because I guarantee I'm not injured."

So Griffin -- in his "six glasses of grain alcohol mixed with grape-flavored Juicy Juice" moment -- returned. And was pummeled. His once Willie Gault-esque speed was gone. His tight spirals had been replaced by Ryan Lindley-esque ducks. It reminded one not of a football game so much as the 1982 heavyweight title fight between Larry Holmes and Randall (Tex) Cobb, the one where Cobb left the ring so bloodied and beaten that Howard Cosell never again worked the sport.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Much like prize fighters, defensive football players are trained to locate an opponent's weakness and exploit it. If a guy's arm is black and blue, nail it with the crown of your helmet. If a linemen is having trouble seeing with his left eye, gouge the right. There Sunday, in the pummeled form of RGIII, stood a walking, talking weakness. A battered quarterback, defenseless without his tools.

The Seahawks, rightly, exploited it.

When Shanahan heard Griffin's plea, he should have looked across the locker room at his son, Kyle Shanahan, who serves as the team's offensive coordindator. Were RGIII his son (and not merely his quarterback), would he have sent him back on the field, sans a leg? Would he have forced Kyle to face one of the NFL's most vicious defenses without a full arsenal? Shanahan should have thought of all the retired NFL players who can no longer walk, can no longer drive, can no longer feed themselves, who -- in the name of toughness and staying on the field -- are pathetic shells of their former selves.

It has been reported that, earlier in the season, James Andrews, the renowned orthopedist, never cleared Griffin to play against the Ravens, that Shanahan had ignored proper protocols in the name of winning a stupid football game. (Shanahan disputes this, however.)

But if Andrews had not cleared Griffin to play, the Redskins organization should be ashamed.

If that's the case, Robert Griffin III shouldn't be asking himself whether he can play.

He should be asking himself whether anyone in power cares for his well-being.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jeff Pearlman.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
America will have its hands full in the Middle East for years to come, writes Aaron David Miller.
November 15, 2014 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
Gene Seymour says it's part of our pioneering makeup to keep exploring the universe
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the U.S.-China agreement to cut carbon emissions is a big deal, and Republicans should take note.
November 15, 2014 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says the Obamacare advisor who repeatedly disses the electorate in a series of videotaped remarks reveals arrogance and cluelessnes.
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 2200 GMT (0600 HKT)
Reggie Littlejohn says gendercide is a human rights abuse against women, with bad consequences for nations.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1657 GMT (0057 HKT)
The massing of Russian forces near Ukraine only reinforces the impression that Moscow has no interest in reconciliation with the West, writes Michael Kofman.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
It takes a real man to make the moves on the wife of the most powerful man in the biggest country. Especially when the wife is a civilian major general.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
Proponents of marriage equality LGBT persons have been on quite a winning streak -- 32 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
It has been an eventful few weeks for space news.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
It's too early to write the U.S. off, and China's leaderships knows that better than anyone, argues Kerry Brown.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1821 GMT (0221 HKT)
"How can Jon Stewart hire you to be 'The Daily Show''s senior Muslim correspondent when you don't even know how to pronounce Salaam Al-aikum?!"
ADVERTISEMENT