Cleared to Play v. Fully Recovered

So much anticipation surrounded Robert Griffin III’s return in the Washington Redskin’s Sept. 9 NFL season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, but should the quarterback have played?

Since January 6, Redskins fans were plagued with agony over what the injury brought: the end of a spectacular rookie season from their beloved quarterback, maybe the end of a spectacular season period.

But since Griffin was cleared to play in Monday’s opener in late August, excitement and post-Adrian-Peterson-era expectation were nearly tangible throughout Redskin nation. Gone are the days when ACL injuries were career-enders. But are the days also gone when an athlete receives not only patience but empathy from a fan base, much less team staff, when recovering from an injury?

Although medical advances have completely changed perception of an ACL tear rendering them season-enders over career-killers, Griffin’s two ligaments reconstructions in just eight months is not the same thing as healing a stubbed toe, superhero-esque recovery speed aside.

Griffin’s shaky start was visible. The speed was not there, nor the explosiveness, and the problems appeared to be bigger than rustiness and hesitancy. Although the man’s knee may be ready, is his leadership ready after missing all of pre-season? Is having Griffin lead the offense so important that it is worth the risk of being off tempo?

Even more alarming than Griffin’s slow start to his first week back, which in any other universe would have been expected, was the fans’ super-expectation of an epic performance.

Sometimes expectations are best served with a steaming hot side of reality.

Far from synonyms, “fully covered” and “cleared to play” seem to be phrases better left separate.

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4 thoughts on “Cleared to Play v. Fully Recovered

  1. kfairbanks22

    Unfortunately, Adrian Peterson did build up some unrealistic expectations for other NFL players. You did a good job explaining the difference between “ready to play” and “fully recovered”. I also liked your sentence “Sometimes expectations are best served with a steaming hot side of reality.” I think this sentence could be shortened or split up somehow: “Although medical advances have completely changed perception of an ACL tear rendering them season-enders over career-killers, Griffin’s two ligaments reconstructions in just eight months is not the same thing as healing a stubbed toe, superhero-esque recovery speed aside.” It just sounded a little awkward to me. But other than that, good job!

    Reply
  2. bpatbend

    I think this is a well written piece. It makes me wonder why athletes rush when returning from serious injuries, such as RG3 and his quick return to the playing field. I was a believer even before the season started that RG3 may not be “ready” to play. Heck, the guy didn’t take a single pre-season snap. I think we’ll see the same type of grit from Kobe in the coming months so he doesn’t miss NBA tipoff in October.

    Reply
  3. cpace2016

    Two things I really liked about this piece:
    1. The concept of “cleared to play” versus “fully recovered.” This is not something fans or, to an extent, players think about in the slightest. Adrian Peterson has now set a bar that is not able to be replicated. Look at Derek Rose for example — everyone criticized him for not playing when he did not feel like he was “fully recovered” despite being “cleared to play.”
    2. The juxtaposition of RGIII and Peterson. Like I said, Peterson is now the benchmark. He made it back for week one after his injury, so now it is expected of everyone, and that’s just not realistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if RGIII isn’t confident in his knee yet and is playing because he feels that pressure.

    As far as suggestions go: you said “fully covered” instead of “recovered” at the end of the piece. Just a typo, who hasn’t done that. Also, I think it’s important for this topic to point out that the Redskins actually have a competent backup in Kirk Cousins.

    As a side note, I loved the line “Sometimes expectations are best served with a steaming hot side of reality.”

    Reply
    1. bpatbend

      I think this is a well written piece. It makes me wonder why athletes rush when returning from serious injuries, such as RG3 and his quick return to the playing field. I was a believer even before the season started that RG3 may not be “ready” to play. Heck, the guy didn’t take a single pre-season snap. I think we’ll see the same type of grit from Kobe in the coming months so he doesn’t miss NBA tipoff in October.

      Reply

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