WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Robert Griffin III’s reluctance to slide to the turf and keep his body out of harm’s way in the Redskins 24-23 preseason win over the Browns caused many — fans, media and team personnel alike — to cringe.
On play in the first quarter, Griffin sprung free from the pocket to raced toward the first-down marker along the sideline, to be met by a trio of defenders who bounced him around like a pinball machine.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden elected to speak up, publicly, voicing his concern for his quarterback not protecting his body. “He has to understand, and he does understand, that the QB is a very important position,” Gruden said of Griffin leaving his body wipe open for clear shots from defenders.
To stress how greatly Griffin could possibly be jeopardizing his body, and the lasting effects doing so could have on his career, here’s former NFL quarterbacks Joe Theismann and Chris Simms, both of whom suffered career-ending injuries.
Theismann and Simms both joined 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier Tuesday afternoon, giving their analysis of the heavy punishment Griffin took in Monday’s game.
First, let’s hear from the more familiar Theismann, who’s generally less-than critical of the team and its players.
“I do get on him about the fact that when you have a chance to get out-of-bounds and not take hits, you have to do that,” Theismann said. “You have to do it. You can’t expose yourself to an unnecessary hit, which he did on a couple of occasions.”
“The excuses have to stop for taking those hits. He has to understand his value,” he went on to say.
Although you likely don’t need a reminder, Theismann suffered a career-ending injury on Nov. 18, 1985 — under the bright lights of Monday Night Football — sustaining a gruesome compound leg fractured when he was sacked by Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson of the New York Giants. He would never play another down.
Now, here’s Simms, who didn’t seem to feel the restraint of someone connected to the Washington, D.C. market.
“You gotta look at it this way, especially if you’re a big time starting quarterback or you’re, of course, a franchise quarterback like RGIII is: You have to adjust your style of play,” Simms said. “Forget preseason. You gotta stay healthy and on the field. That’s the most important thing. That’s the most important thing to your team and yourself.
“I don’t think anybody could teach you more than that than Peyton Manning over his career, what you’ve seen; how good a job he does of just getting out of harm’s way all the time. And yea, you know, there’s times where I’m watching games, like, ‘Ah, Peyton, he’s such a wimp, he went down again,’ but yet, he’s the one that’s continuing to play and I’m the one that had a career-ending injury, and I’m sitting here talking about it now, too.”
Three games into the 2006 season, after series of hits left him wincing and struggling to finish a game against the Carolina Panthers, Simms was taken to a nearby hospital where he was determined to have a ruptured spleen. After emergency surgery, Simms said he’d lost five pints of blood, and had that surgery been held off another longer, his football injury could have proven that much closer to being fatal.
Simms would miss the remainder of the 2006 season, all of 2007, and would eventually be cut by the Buccaneers ahead of the 2008 season.
“So there is a fine line,” Simms said. “It’s all about your performance on the field — yes, you want to compete, get hard yards — but certainly not necessary to take some of the hits RGIII took [Monday] night. Him and Johnny Manziel, I think, are two guys that are gonna have to adjust their game big time.”
“When I was starting down in Tampa, we played against the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Vick twice a year,” he’d go on to say. “And he was faster than all these guys, he’s built like a running back — so he’s not as lanky and as wiry as an RGIII; he’s thick, built to even take a little punishment — and he couldn’t stay healthy, so why does anybody think they’re gonna stay healthy playing that kind of game in the NFL?”