Even though every seemingly routine procedure which results in anything other than death is referred to as a “successful surgery,” celebrity surgeon Dr. James Andrews seems to be trying to pump the brakes on his latest high-profile operation.
After yesterday’s procedure on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, Andrews did an interview with SiriusXM Radio this morning in which he gave an update that sounded less optimistic than some.
“I really can’t talk specifically about an injury from just the privacy act of that young man’s career but obviously I had to operate on his knee yesterday,” Andrews said in comments distributed by SiriusXM. “And it’s a shame but he had a re-injury to his ACL. He’s already waiting on me this morning to start his rehab and start his recovery. A fine young man and a great talent. So we’re looking forward, trying to get him back ready for next season.”
That’s well short of “He’s the next Adrian Peterson and will be running 4.3 40s any day now,” and a sensible position to take for a man who has become rich and famous by stitching together the knees of the rich and famous.
Asked later in the interview about the chances of a player returning to his previous elite form after such a surgery, Andrews stayed clear of specifics about Griffin.
“Well, you know, we talk about ACL reconstructive procedures [as] one of our best operations we do in sports as far as the overall results,” he said. “Ninety-five percent is just a figure that comes to head right now, success rate. That’s across the board. Now, if you take a NFL running back that’s got to depend on his knee function probably at the highest level, there’s about 55 percent of them that are still playing football after what we would call a successful ACL surgery, about 55 percent still playing actively in the NFL after two years.
“So is that a failure of the ACL surgery? No, but that’s a failure of that running back losing a step and losing ability to cut on a dime and is not able to play. So it’s not as rosy as what it might look depending on the high level sport the further you go up the ladder, to try to play football, for example, in the professional league after an ACL operation.”
Obviously, RG3 is not a running back. But much of his game is built on his ability to move, and throw on the move.
So while medical advances tend to make us think that such rehabs are commonplace, and special cases like Peterson help convince they’re possible, the reality is that Griffin coming back to look exactly as he looked before is far from a given.