On Jan. 6, with 24 million fans watching, the Washington Redskins led by rookie sensation Robert Griffin III stormed back into the playoffs for the first time since 2007 to face the Seattle Seahawks. Nothing could be better right?
Wrong. Griffin wasnít playing at 100 percent, but he wanted to be there for his team. He had bled and fought through a grueling, 16 weeks rehab, and not being there for his teammates, coaches and fans was not going to stop him from being on the field.
Strained tendons in his right knee werenít going to keep Griffin from this moment.
It should have.
Griffin suffered a tear in both lateral collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament and goes into an offseason filled with rehab and skepticism about him being the same player he was before.
When RGIII went down, judgment was swift. Head Coach Mike Shanahan was deemed a reckless coach and to some degree, I think Shanahan does hold some responsibility.
I havenít heard nearly as much backlash for Griffin. Iíve heard blame heaped on the people who are supposed to make sure he is cleared to play before he steps on the field, but at the end of the day, once Griffin is cleared medically fit to play, is he not the final decision maker?
The question has to be asked, what is the difference between hurt and injured? In professional sports, not just football surprisingly, the answer varies depending on the stakes and the reward.
Pro football is a violent sport and the fans who watch the game, love the violence that is a part of the game. When I watch football, Iím just as excited about a great scoring play as I am about a technically correct, bone-jarring tackle.
I get it. The rule changes the NFL is making to protect the athletes who play the game are sometimes arduous, but with the current state of players and their attitudes towards safety, they are necessary. Players have to be protected from themselves. I understand wanting to be there for your teammates, but there has to be a point where athletes take responsibility to take care of their investment ó their bodies. Athletes are in a business and their sports ability is the product they sell.
Itís not the fansí responsibility to protect athletes. Fans pump millions of dollars into sports and have nothing more invested in the event than the cost of a ticket, hotdog and a beverage. At the price fans pay, theyíre only interested in being entertained.
The NFL can make all the rule adjustments it wants to make the game safer, but until the players get serious about protecting the asset of their bodies for the long term, nothing is going change.