Ever since the world learned that Redskins rookie
franchise QB Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion after a hit by Falcons LB Sean Weatherspoon in the third quarter of last Sunday's game there have been two questions about his immediate future:
1. Will RG3 play against the Vkings?
2. Should RG3 play against the Vikings?
Those are two different, if related, questions, of course.
As to the first question, nobody knows for sure, probably not even RG3 himself or Head Coach Mike Shanahan. Lots of intelligent people have ideas, of course, and if you want to know you can find exciting sports information provided by the best Sportsbook reviews. Minnesota Vikings Head coach Leslie Frazier says he is preparing as if RG3 will play, but also preparing as if the Vikings will have to face backup Kirk Cousins, as well. [I am reading that the betting line on the game could change as much as 1.5 points depending on whether or not RG3 plays, but that's probably changed since I read it.]
RG3 himself addressed the issue yesterday:
"It's a serious issue, but I felt fine when I left the locker room" after being injured in Sunday's game against Atlanta, Griffin said. "I went home, watched some TV and kinda just relaxed. I haven't had any symptoms at all. Practice went good. I felt sharp. I felt good. No symptoms of a concussion: no dizziness or (feeling) off-balance. I feel right today. We'll see what happens come Sunday."
It is important to remember that being cleared to practice is only a good first step for Griffin. He cannot play again in an NFL game until and unless he is cleared to do so by an independent expert -- a neurologist not employed by the team or the NFL. [Team doctors have a vested interest in giving their employers the answer they want to hear and are thus lack the autonomy required for such a delicate and important recommendation.]
What I am hearing now from some quarters, though, is that RG3 should not play this week no matter what. I heard this from Mike Greenberg, host of the ESPN drive-time radio show "Mike and Mike in the Morning" [simulcat on ESPN2] and former Giants DE Mike Strahan, who now analyzes football for Fox Sports. Strahan, a guest on "Mike and Mike in the Morning," both agreed that RG3 simply should not play this weekend for reasons of player safety.
I have a problem with this. I agree player safety should be paramount, which is why it is a very, very good thing that indepednent neurologists are now required to nod in approval before a player can return to an NFL game after suffering a concussion. [I'd also like to abolish the term "minor concussion," which was used by the Redskins to refer to RG3's injury. A brain injury is only minor if it happens to someone else. If it is happening to you, it's major.] But what I don't like is the notion that a player who has suffered a concussion should be held out of a game even if he's been cleared to play by an indepedent neurologist.
My rule on injured players is this: Healthy players play, injured players do not. If a player -- let's say Robert Griffin III -- has been cleared to play by an indedepent neurologist, he should play. Those who argue he should be held out despite the medical opinion of a disinterested expert, reply that RG3 shouldn't play anyway -- just to be safe. My response: Safe from what? The possibility of further injury? Then why hold him out just a week? Why not a month? Two months? Why not tell him to take a powder the rest of the season and we'll come back in 2013 and try again? If a player should be held out -- "just to be safe" -- despite being cleared by a medical expert, what's the real motivation here? Are we trying to keep this player safe from another concussion or are we more worried about problems with the media and lawyers? If the latter -- as I suspect -- then we're now making a football decision based not on medicine, but on public relations and legal concerns.
And that's fine. Decisions are made all the time based on the suggestions of PR flaks and lawyers. But let's at least be honest about what we're doing. Don't telll me you have a valid medical reason for keeping RG3 out another week unless you actually cite a valiid medical reason. "Just to be safe" isn't a valid medical reason, it's what a person says when publicity or courtrooms are uppermost in the mind.
I'm fine with people saying RG3 should be kept out another week -- even if an independent neurologist says he's ready to play -- as long as they are honest about why they think this should happen.
IMO i believe that if the independent neurologist clears RGIII to play, then he should play . . . thats the whole reason the NFL has deployed this policy is to ensure players are healthy and ready to go before allowing the concussed player to play, so if that independent expert says RGIII is ready, then who am i to say otherwise??