LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — What drives a player to remain in the game when he’s far from 100 percent? At what point can he objectively see that attempting to play through an injury may actually harm his team’s chances to win?
In the case of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the answer was not until it was too late.
It was Griffin’s choice to remain under center after injuring his already suspect knee in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. Washington scored the first 14 points of the game on a pair of early touchdown passes, but would be outscored 24-0 from then on.
The lack of points on the scoreboard reflected what was seen on the field — an offense that was far from its best and a typically lightning quick, supremely mobile quarterback slowed to hobble.
Clamors for Kirk Cousins began as Seattle crept back into the game while the RGIII-led unit continued churning out yards at a lethargic pace. Despite having shown an ability to quarterback a team to victory, the understudy remained on the bench and wouldn’t come in until Griffin crumbled to the choppy turf after his knee buckled. The injury, played repeatedly on TV, caused even the most calloused football fans to grimace.
Should he have been in there in the first place?
“My job is to be out there if I can play,” Griffin said after the game. “The only time I couldn’t play was when I went down. . . I don’t feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I’m the best option for this team, and that’s why I’m the starter.”
Defensive end Adam Carriker, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, provided insight into Griffin’s mind and thought process in trying to battle through.
“We envision ourselves like gladiators. We’re not coming out of the game if at all possible and we can’t stay in the game,” Carriker said on his radio show, 4th & Pain. “My attitude is a coach is going to have to take me out. If he asks me, I’m going to stay in.”
Carriker admits his injury situation was a little different. He was unable to lift his leg and says he had no choice but to stay sidelined after tearing his quad tendon against the St. Louis Rams.
“In a case like Robert, I admire and I respect his toughness, his desire,” he said. “It’s an incredibly tough situation because you have a guy that wants to keep play and obviously has a desire to win and win championship. I have nothing but respect for that.”
Like many, Carriker struggled to come up with an answer when asked what he would have done if he were Mike Shanahan.
“It’s such tough situation to be in,” he said. “Do you keep him in? Do you take him out? How bad is he hurt? What if he’s not really hurt that much and he could have helped you?
“What would I have done? I literally don’t know. I would have flipped a coin.”