Monday, January 7, 2013


Today the mediated communications about football dealt with the quarterback for the Washington Redskins.  Last night he played in a playoff game when an injury he sustained a few weeks back, appeared to get worse. Some early reports today, Monday, indicate that RG3 may be out for portions of next year.  Some pessimistic reports suggest that the injury may be career ending.

The head coach for the Redskins is taking an awful lot of heat today.  He asked RG3 if he was ready to play, and the rookie phenom said he was.  RG3 played and hurt himself in the first half. He continued to play in the second half, but then went down when his knee took an ugly twist that left him motionless on the field.

The question is should he have played?

There are two subquestions.  The first is whether or not playing increased the chances of a career threatening injury. The second, only to be asked if the answer to the first question was a "NO" is did the player give the Redskins a better chance to win than his substitute would have.

The night before, the Minnesota Vikings held out their quarterback because of an injury and started a player who had not thrown a single pass the entire season.  A few years ago the quarterback for the Chicago Bears took himself out of a playoff game when he was injured and some speculated not debilitatingly so.

In hindsight RG3 should not have played.  He did make his injury worse and he did not give his team a good chance to win after the reinjury in the first quarter.

But the coach did not have hindsight; nor did the player.  Years ago in 2001, the Patriots' Tom Brady twisted his ankle severely in the AFC championship game.  He had to come out and due to the heroics of one of the best players never to get the credit he deserved--Troy Brown--who ran back a punt for a touchdown, blocked a field goal which resulted in a touchdown, and caught a clutch pass for a final first down in that game, the Patriots advanced.  Brady had his ankle shot up with painkillers to play in the next game--the super bowl. And the Patriots won.  Brady did not reinjure his ankle but could have.

John Havlicek played some games for the Celtics with one shoulder hanging off. KC Jones, similarly, played the final game of an LA series with so much tape on his leg that you could not see more than a couple of inches of skin.  Johnny Unitas led a final drive with blood gushing out of his face.  These players should not be made out to be heroes, because they took this risk.  However, they took the risk and did no further damage--which could have been what happened to RG3.  It just didn't.

Every player in football runs the risk of a career ending injury every single time he steps onto the field. If playing increases the risk of an existing injury becoming worse because of the vulnerability that the injury creates--then the extent of that risk is an essential consideration.  And coaches must not put their players in jeopardy.  In this instance with RG3 unless there is information not yet revealed, it is tough to know if the coach did the wrong thing.

A few hours prior to the Redskins game, the Ravens took the field with Ray Lewis returning to the field after a long period out because of an injury.  Lewis played a respectable game and did not reinjure himself. Nobody today is calling the Ravens' coach a fool for allowing him to take the chance of reinjuring his arm to the extent it would never be useful again.

1 comment:

  1. The RG111 who captured the imagination of the nation was not playing that day. Instead of the powerfully cunning victor of 8 straight cames I saw a guy who should have been being prepped for surgery. If not true initially, then truly evident with each play after the first series.I turned off the TV shaking my head at halftime. Later, seeing the tape of the final plays reminded me of a boxing match that should have been stopped by the ref. Maybe there should be an exta ref with a medical adviser added to the game.