Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III needed three different repairs on his right knee this week by Dr. James Andrews after injuring it in the Redskins’ playoff loss to Seattle. (Photo by Getty Images)
This time, Dr. James Andrews had an up-close-and-personal encounter with Robert Griffin III’s right knee.
The renowned athletic surgeon spent hours at his Florida clinic on Wednesday to repair the lateral collateral ligament, reconstruct the partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and fix up the medial meniscus for the Washington Redskins rookie quarterback.
Dr. James Andrews watches from the sidelines during the 2013 BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame on Monday, Jan. 7. He operated on Robert Griffin III’s knee two days later. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
He also needed just a couple of seconds to insist his own reputation was hardly damaged after a rehash of conflicting reports that he allowed the former Heisman Trophy winner to return to a game last December without fully examining his tweaked knee on the sidelines after it happened..
“Of course not,” Andrews said the other morning, asked if he was concerned how his actions were perceived. “People don’t understand what goes on down on the football field. The coach (Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan) didn’t know what we were really saying. I’ve put that all behind me now.”
The NFL Players Association also confirmed its own findings that Andrews and the Redskins’ medical staff did nothing wrong. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell concurred.
It’s not as if Andrews, on the Alabama sidelines during their BCS title game victory over Notre Dame on Monday, needed any more excitement this week.
He said he wasn’t at liberty to explain how RGIII’s surgery went, only that he’s “well on his way to recovery” and, after eight months of projected rehab, he’ll likely start the 2013 season.
“He’s such a great kid, unbelievable,” the 71-year-old Andrews said of the 22-year-old.
Interestingly, USA Today tracked down Robert Griffin II for his opinion of the surgery. Quoting him in Friday’s editions, RGIII’s father declared the injury was “not as bad as everybody thinks. . . . When he sees his coaches and everyone else, it’s going to be like nothing ever happened.”
Along with that vote of confidence, Andrews might want to slip RGII a copy of his new book, “Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, For Athletes, Parents and Coaches – Based on My Life in Sports Medicine” (Scribner, $25, 270 pages, with Don Yaeger).
Not to imply that RGII falls into the category of parents who are often are the ones blinded most by their child’s athletic potential, and get caught up most by delusions of grandeur. But there’s a trap door there, and almost any dad or mom can look guilty at some point of pushing their children unnecessarily past their natural athletic resistance, unaware of the proper training methods, and the results can be expensive.
Which is where Andrews often comes in.
To his credit, he is trying to take the lead in preventive medicine, rather than reactive repairing. He’s had too many first encounters with young athletes on an operating table.
Andrews explained how this new reference book, the proceeds from which will go toward a sports injury campaign organization he helped launch in 2009 (www.stopsportsinjuries.org), can be put to its intended purpose:
QUESTION: How disheartening – if that’s the right word – is to see a 14-year-old pitcher nowadays come into your office expecting you to magically fix his elbow?
ANSWER: Well, let me tell you, you just look at him and say, “Why did this happen? What can we do to prevent this?” And the parents are the ones who say, “We’ve done everything we could to make sure our son had a chance to develop in a sport,” but most times, they’ve had no clue the injury risks involved. They claim, “We didn’t know he could get hurt doing that.” It’s all a matter of education.