Ten-Point Stance: Why RG3 injury could lead to changes on sidelines

by | National NFL Insider
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The situation involving Robert Griffin III and the most talked about knee injury since Nancy Kerrigan has been closely watched by everyone -- especially the NFL Players Association.

What happened with Griffin could be another step toward forcing the NFL to put independent monitors on the sideline to watch for concussed players, something the NFLPA has wanted for a long time.

To understand why, go back to the Redskins game against the Ravens four weeks ago. Less than two minutes to play. Possible game-tying drive. Griffin took a horrific shot to his knee, came off the field for one play, then came back for four more snaps before departing again due to that knee stiffening to the point where he could barely move it.

One day after that injury, coach Mike Shanahan said he had consulted with team physician James Andrews, one of the most respected doctors in sports history, and that Griffin had a sprained LCL. The important caveat: Shanahan said he consulted with Andrews during the game about whether Griffin could re-enter.

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However, Andrews told USA Today he never examined Griffin or cleared him to return. Andrews has since recanted and told the Washington Post that Shanahan's account was correct.

"Coach Shanahan didn't lie about it, and I didn't lie," Andrews said Monday afternoon. "I didn't get to examine [Griffin's knee] because he came out for one play, didn't let us look at him and on the next play, he ran through all the players and back out onto the field. Coach Shanahan looks at me like, 'Is he OK?' and I give him the 'Hi' sign as in, 'He's running around, so I guess he's OK.'

"But I didn't get to check him out until after the game. It was just a communication problem. Heat of battle. I didn't get to tell him I didn't get to examine the knee. Mike Shanahan would never have put him out there at risk just to win a game."

Few people in the sport believe this new account from Andrews, but that's his story now and he's sticking to it.

The union is so concerned about what happened with Griffin and Andrews that the union has asked its medical specialist to speak with Andrews and find out exactly what happened.

One high-ranking union official tells CBSSports.com that this is yet another example of why independent neurologists are needed on NFL sidelines. Make no mistake: The union is still focused on this issue and will make a dramatic push for this. The NFL says it isn't needed.

But the Griffin situation shows why the union has a point. Regardless of Andrews' denial, there was confusion over how Griffin was handled. The point is valid: If a team can't handle a knee injury, how can they handle concussions?

There were other problems. This season, there were questions with how Chicago handled a concussion with Jay Cutler (the NFL said the Bears handled the situation properly -- the union vehemently disagrees).

Though there was some dispute about which hit to the head caused concussion-like symptoms to Alex Smith during one game this season, he complained of blurred vision. Again, there were questions about how the 49ers handled it.

Mike Vick took two big hits in one game, only leaving the game after the second one.

The collective bargaining agreement, the union official tells me, is written in such a way that the player base doesn't have to give the union leaders consent to act. So union leaders can, and likely will, take some sort of action to force the issue.

The union wants an independent brain specialist on the sideline whose singular responsibility is to look out for the players. Eventually the union might want an independent specialist to look out for all player injuries. It's interesting that a knee injury to Griffin may be one of the final pushes for the union to take action, but it speaks to his star status. While Cutler and Smith are significant names (especially Cutler), they aren't on the same celebrity status as Griffin.

In the end, it may be an injured knee that could save a number of brains.

2. One of the best quotes ever about Ray Lewis, from a teammate to me: "Ray is Michael Jackson. The rest of us are a bunch of Titos. Ed Reed is probably Jermaine. Jermaine is the second most powerful Jackson, right?" I believe that's correct.

3. Last year, Oregon's Chip Kelly used one team to get more cash. This year, he used three. Nothing wrong with that. Many do it. But let's not act like Kelly returned to Oregon for the nobility or to coach up the kids or because he loves the Ducks. He did it because he enjoyed the NFL chase but then got cold feet (and a bag of cash) at the last minute. And make no mistake: Kelly decided against taking an NFL gig because teams like the Browns and Eagles didn't give in to his demands, like total control. And he got a bag of cash.

What you're hearing now from some in the NFL is that no team will ever trust Kelly again and he's burned every bridge in the pros. That's a total joke. Next year, some team will fire its coach, and next year, that team will contact Kelly. Then he'll flirt again. And be wooed. And do seven-hour lunches. It'll be GroundChip Day. Then, in the end, he'll again say no.

4. While Jon Gruden is indeed prepared to come back and coach in the NFL, so far there's not a great deal of interest from teams. So far. That could change, but while Gruden, according to a variety of sources, has put together a staff, he doesn't have a place to go. One team looking for a coach explained its lack of interest in Gruden this way. "You don't know if he's in this for the love or the ego," said the source.

There's no question Gruden loves the job but there's also no question he enjoys the chase. He's the Chip Kelly of ex-coaches. One place to keep an eye on with Gruden is Philadelphia, but the Eagles' intense pursuit of Kelly says that maybe they aren't eyeing him as some in the league believe.

5. A few years ago, during the postseason, Chicago's home field was a disgraceful, dangerous mess. This year, FedEx Field was in utter shambles, leading Seattle coach Pete Carroll to rip its condition. The Seahawks, I'm told, are strongly considering filing a complaint with the NFL.

It's the responsibility of the home team to maintain the field properly. The Seahawks believe that the Redskins kept the field in poor conditions to slow down the aggressiveness of their defense. That's kind of a silly theory since a sloppy field would also pose a danger to Robert Griffin III.

6a. Champ of the week: RG3. The way he stood at the postgame podium, his knee a twisted wreck, and answered every question from the media was impressive. But then again, he has been impressive all along. He's the anti-cornbread brotha'.

6b. Chump of the week: whoever painted FedEx Field green.

6c. Tweet of the week: "Many may question, criticize & think they have all the right answers. But few have been in the line of fire in battle." -- Griffin, defending Shanahan.

Fair enough. But would still like football players to stop saying things like they are in the "line of fire" or in a "battle." I get it. Fallujah was a battle, not a football game.

7. Expect more NFL teams to make yet more runs at Nick Saban and Saban to make yet more denials about his pro interest and more hell nos to NFL teams. This year, he's not going to the NFL. Meanwhile, Alabama runner Eddie Lacy will. Said one NFC scout on Lacy: "He's not a product of the offensive line. He's a dominant back. He'll be outstanding on the next level. His stock is rising quickly mainly because he's got power with some great cutback ability."

8. If you are in your living room, and you have the idea to create a bogus report about a famous wide receiver breaking both legs in a car accident, and then you put that bogus report on the fancy World Wide Web, well, you are a loser.

9. I'm hearing Ray Lewis, in addition to going to television, would seriously consider coaching in the NFL. It would be interesting to see a perfectionist like Lewis with an unmatched work ethic coach today's players.

10. The next breakout quarterback, according to some scouts: Ryan Tannehill.

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