Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedist who caused a stir when he was quoted as saying that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan put quarterback Robert Griffin III back in a game against the Ravens without Andrews’ clearance, has now changed his tune.
Although Andrews’ quotes to USA Today contradicted Shanahan’s account of why Griffin re-entered the Ravens game after suffering a knee injury, Andrews told the Washington Post on Monday that his comments to USA Today were misconstrued.
“Coach Shanahan didn’t lie about it, and I didn’t lie,” Andrews said. “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.”
It’s hard not to be skeptical that Andrews is changing his story because of the backlash to his previous comments, which were published less than 24 hours before Griffin suffered another injury to the same knee. And even if this new version of events is accurate, it still doesn’t reflect well on the care NFL players are getting on NFL sidelines from Andrews and other doctors. Team doctors are there to use their medical expertise to keep players safe, not to shrug their shoulders and say, “He’s running around, so I guess he’s OK.”
Griffin has no complaints about his care: He insists that he was OK to be on the field. But Griffin is a competitor who would surely play through torn ligaments, broken bones and concussions if the team and the doctors would let him. The NFL and the players’ union should be investigating why the Redskins let Griffin keep playing.