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
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
To prevent war with North Korea over a comedy, what would Dennis Rodman say to Kim Jong Un? Movie critic Gene Seymour weighs in.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Michael Werz says in light of the spying cases, U.S. is seen as a paranoid society that can't tell friends from foes.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Eric Liu explains why in his new book, he calls himself "Chinese American" -- without a hyphen.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
John Bare says hands-on learning can make a difference in motivating students to acquire STEM skills.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
Karl Alexander and Linda Olson find blacks and whites live in urban poverty with similar backgrounds, but white privilege wins out as they grow older.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
The mother of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder cries as she meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on July 7, 2014.
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
ADVERTISEMENT