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.