Dr. Andrews says RG3 was never cleared to re-enter game


Renowned sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews serves as one of the Redskins’ game-day physicians.  That relationship could now be in danger, grave or otherwise.

Andrews admits to USA Today that he never cleared quarterback Robert Griffin III to re-enter a Week 15 game against the Ravens, after Griffin suffered a knee injury that looked much worse than it ended up being.  Griffin skipped one play, re-entered the game, and then exited for good several snaps later.

“He didn’t even let us look at him,” Andrews tells Robert Klemko of USA Today.  “He came off the field, walked through the sidelines, circled back through the players, and took off back to the field.  It wasn’t our opinion.

“We didn’t even get to touch him or talk to him.  Scared the hell out of me.”

Andrews’ comments may scare the hell out of coach Mike Shanahan, who specifically said the day after the game that Andrews had cleared Griffin to return.

“He’s on the sidelines with Dr. Andrews,” Shanahan said at the time, via Klemko.  “He had a chance to look at him and he said he could go back in.  [I said] ‘Hey, Dr. Andrews, can Robert go back in?’

‘Yeah, he can go back in.’

‘Robert, go back in.’

“That was it.”

But that wasn’t it.  And now, as the Redskins prepare to host the Seahawks on Sunday afternoon, Shanahan and Andrews may be having an awkward conversation at some point this morning.  Especially since Andrews is still concerned about Griffin’s status.

“I’m the one that shut him down that day, finally,” Andrews said.  “I’ve been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has.  He’s doing a lot better this week, but he’s still recovering and I’m holding my breath because of it.

“He passed all the tests and all the functional things we do, but it’s been a trying moment for me, to be honest with you.”

This back-and-forth highlights the tension between doctors and the teams that pay those doctors to provide care and evaluation to players.  And it suggests that Andrews, who doesn’t need his relationship with the Redskins in order to remain the go-to orthropedic specialist for NFL players, has opted to jeopardize that role with the team in order to keep his conscience clear.

Other team-hired doctors don’t have that luxury.  Routinely, those doctors tell coaches what the coaches want to hear about player availability, knowing that if the coaches aren’t told what they want to hear they’ll find another doctor who will.That’s why the NFL and NFLPA should work toward the use of a truly independent staff of game-day physicians, who can work with only one concern in mind — the health and well-being of their patients.

90 responses to “Dr. Andrews says RG3 was never cleared to re-enter game

  1. Sounds like it’s on Griffin that he went back in.

    Of course, I’m from the old days when personal responsibility still counted.

  2. Dr Andrews is the Vince Lombardi of doctors. He is the #1 surgeon to all athletes in this country. I would suspect Shanahan cant really tell him nothing.

  3. Too bad Andrews isn’t a neurosurgeon! If he was the Browns could hire him to exam Joe Banner’s head for considering Mike Lombardi as a GM candidate!

  4. This is ridiculous. A doctor should never give patient info to anybody. I don’t believe Dr. Andrews would have said any of that. He knows better

  5. Oops. I guess it’s not in Dr. Andrew’s contract that he is required to speak fluent Coachspeak.

    Think Shanahan went a bit too far in creating a dialog that never happened.

  6. He’s a rising star of the league. He’s TV ratings. If he would have been some low level backup then he would not have been allowed back in. Nothing has really changed.

  7. Someone messed up badly.
    It’s possible that Mike Shanahan made all that up, or…Andrews made a mistake and now he is tryimg to cover his tracks.

  8. All coaches lie to the media, they’re not taking an oath before press conferences. That’s the bad part about the media, they constantly report false information, but it’s mostly the sources’ fault and not their own.

  9. Didn’t something like this happen to the Browns last year after Colt McCoy was clocked by the Steelers James Harrison?

    The Browns got themselves in some deep do-do and the NFL supposedly established a system to avoid such situations.

    Might not have been exactly the same type of situation, but the players health was put in jeopardy due to someone other than the doctor allowing the player to re-enter the game. That part appears to be the same as the McCoy incident.

    Will this be brushed under the rug?

    …we shall see !

  10. [i]….truly independent staff of game-day physicians[/i]

    So they can duck them, too. Or lie to them about their condition so they don’t get “Alex Smithed”

    It’s the nature of things.

  11. Mike Shanahan hardly has a warm and fuzzy attitude about player injuries. Look at how he treated Mark Schlereth in contract negotiations at Denver.

  12. He only has to get through today without getting injured, then he will have all offseason to rehab. Redskins will choke with that putrid defense. Seahawks 42-10. Bank it.

  13. When you have the consummate “go-to guy” on your sideline to look after your players, it’s foolish not to leverage his expertise and extremely arrogant to lie about it. At this rate, RG3 may not play the length of his contract!

  14. “He (griffen) wouldnt talk to us. He went and circled some players and went back in.”

    When do we put blame on the players? How will this be used by the NFLPA in the lawsuits? If anything, goodell will use this. He refused to see the doctor. We cant stop stupid.

  15. I don’t think this really comes as a surprise to anyone. Shanahan is not exactly known for his integrity or safety for his players. He did the same thing when Griffin got his concussion, first denying the concussion, then calling it “mild”. There is probably a reason that none of his running backs lasted more than a few years in Denver under his regime. Redskins fans are drinking his kool-aid this year, so I doubt any of them will care about this story until Griffin or Morris has their career ended prematurely.

  16. If you have ever played organized sports as an athlete your response would be “Who cares”. I understand they have a ton of money invested in these guys but its his body and its not like it was a concussion that’s life altering possibly.

  17. cheddarrob says:
    Jan 6, 2013 11:21 AM
    If you have ever played organized sports as an athlete your response would be “Who cares”. I understand they have a ton of money invested in these guys but its his body and its not like it was a concussion that’s life altering possibly.
    I would say that having a permanent knee injury that makes you unable to play out your contract during your first year would be considered “life altering”.

  18. Seeing as it was, what, almost a month ago now that this happened, and it’s only coming out TODAY, just coincidentally on the day the Redskins play what is probably their biggest game in over a decade… I’m not saying Andrews is lying, because Shanahan would pull something like this, but… the timing is VERY suspect.

  19. I like RG3 but he plays for a losing organization. They cant even do simple procedures like a sideline exam properly. They will lose today because of their losing ways. 42-10.

  20. cappa662 says: Jan 6, 2013 10:47 AM

    Even more reason why the doctors need to be employed by the NFL and NOT the team.

    hummer53 says: Jan 6, 2013 11:01 AM

    He’s a rising star of the league. He’s TV ratings. If he would have been some low level backup then he would not have been allowed back in. Nothing has really changed.

    –Doesn’t matter who hires the doctors, similar ulterior motives are there.

  21. No one is mentioning the possibility that Dr. Andrews is covering his butt by making these statements. While I think it’s more likely that Shanahan would lie than Dr. Andrews, it IS a possibility.

    In any event–Not to worry. The Great Roger Goodell Himself Live And In Person will probably take Dr. Andrews’ statement as the only evidence, never interview anyone else, and use this as an excuse to fine the Redskins or take away a draft pick or cap space. We all know he’s seething after the Skins won the division over The Great One’s beloved Giants, and when The Great Roger Goodell Himself Live And In Person doesn’t get the on-field results he demands, teams are punished.

  22. Dr Andrews is the most trusted and respected physician in all of sports. Hes been in the game as the go to surgeon for 20 years in sports. Its the Redskins that cant be trusted. And for that, they will lose 42-10.

  23. Quick…someone get John Mara on the phone….the Redskins still have cap room and draft picks to take! SMH

  24. Guys go back on the field injured all the time. Why are we acting like this is against the rules? I believe that have a rule about going back into the game with a concussion but I don’t believe there is a rule about going back into the game with a knee injury. If there is, then a lot more than the Redskins would be fined, correct?

  25. Tiki is flabbergasted, and Brees wants an explanation….Redskins have overcome any and all obstacles this season & overachieved in every way. Today they will again. Skins win,23-20

  26. Fuhrer Goodell could careless about Saftey. RGIII is grabbing ratings and making money. He set them up for a tie, they won the NFC East and they are playing today. Again I say “who cares”, real players want to play. Thumbs down all you want.

  27. An event similiar to this happened in Super Bowl 32. Terrell Davis came off the field saying he was unable to see because of a migraine headache after being inadvertently kicked in the head.

    Shanahan was so concerned for his health that he sent Davis back onto the field to act as a decoy/blocker.

    There is video documentation of this contained in Denver’s Super Bowl 32 highlights tape.

    I am sure video tape also exists that would back-up Dr. Andrews’ claim that RG3 circled the sidelines and never let the medical staff get a look at him. One play would not have allowed sufficient time for even a quick examination.

    Shanahan is lieing and should suffer the consequences whatever they may be.

  28. This will give the Mara’s a clear chance to punish the Redskins.Probably deserve it too.

    But only an idiot would think that this doesn’t happen on every NFL sideline.

    Not the NFL but REAL doctors who also understand the game should make the decisions.

    Not the teams nor the NFL who are extremely selective on who and how they punish teams and players.

  29. Let’s be real here. The Skins do not pay Dr. Andrews. Doctors and medical groups pay the teams to be their “official” team physicians. For example, the Philadelphia Eagles do not pay a certain orthopedic group in Philadelphia for their services. Rather that group pays the Eagles a ton of money for the title of “official” team physicians, so that they can plaster their names on billboards all over town.

    Think about it, does Nascar pay Sunoco to be the “official” fuel of Nascar, of the other way around?

    The doctors do, of course, make money in this relationship, using these titles to boost their reputation. Regardless, there is a conflict of interest and these team physicians are strongly motivated to do whatever the teams/coaches want, for risk of losing the lucrative relationship.

    Dr. Andrews may be renowned, but the title of “official team physician” is not based on merit. Rather, it goes to the highest bidder.

  30. How can a proper knee exam be performed and communicated to the HC et al. in less than the time of one play on the field?

    I also find the timing of Andrews’ statements to be a bit odd.

    I think Griffin pulled a fast one on both Shanny and the doctors to get back in the game, just my speculation…

    Impressive that he went 2/2 for 42 yards when he went back in on one leg as a side note, albeit not very forward thinking…

  31. Ah, walk it off. If he can walk that is. Shanahan would never send a player back in the field if he wasn’t 100%. Well there was that time in the Super Bowl where Terrell Davis had a migraine and couldn’t even see but coach shany sent him in to run play action. But other than that…never. Haha

  32. joeyjojojr says: Jan 6, 2013 12:27 PM

    Dr. Andrews may be renowned, but the title of “official team physician” is not based on merit. Rather, it goes to the highest bidder.


    Wow! Never thought of that! Moneyball it is!!!!

  33. It would be possible, and also likely less costly, for the NFL to charge each team a medical fee for the season; an amount equal to what they are already paying to physicians. They could hire 28 (or more) qualified physicians, two of which would be assigned to each officiating crew. The docs would travel with their crew as they are travel each week to a new venue; one each serving one of the two teams playing that game. There would be some interesting collateral benefits such as establishing a rapport with officials and also exposing injured players to m ultiple professional oppions from week to week. Such a plan would definitely remove the conflict of interest issue. Just a thought.

  34. “Thornton, is the work you turned in your own?”

    “I cannot tell a lie, Dean Martin…….Yes it is!”

    “Well, I’m satisfied”

  35. Dr James Andrews probably makes more than the entire Redskins payroll. Do you have any idea how many surgeries he does each year? Hundreds!

    Bad example saying Drs pay to be team surgerons. No way DJA pays the skins. He is getting paid big time to be there. Every team would want him.

  36. cheddarrob says:
    Jan 6, 2013 12:12 PM
    Never knew they had to pass a “knee contusion” test to go back in…it’s not a concussion.
    I see you are drinking the Shanahan Kool Aid. Shanny lied about the injury even after it was diagnosed. He said “Luckily he didn’t tear anything, he just has a sprained LCL”. A sprained LCL is in fact a tear of the LCL, just not torn enough to require surgery. It takes about six to eight weeks of rest to heal completely. Every time Griffin steps out on the field now he is at risk of tearing it completely, even without a direct hit to it…which is why he is wearing the brace.

    Players often play with slight tears and that is fine. Just don’t lie about it or only the uneducated people will believe you (directed at Shanahan- not anyone on this board).

  37. Don’t call RGIII dumb for sneaking his way back on the field. He’s a man, and he has to be dragged off the field. Something someone like Jay Cutler could learn from.

  38. Inexcusable. Redskins fans finally have a competitive star quarterback and Shanahan treats him like a piece of meat. RG3 deserves a coach who’ll protect him and a fan base intelligent enough to be outraged by this story. But, then, look at their owner. Not exactly a beacon of integrity.

  39. As a huge Redskins fan, I’m thrilled with RGIII’s play. But I’m terrified at how exposed to injury he has been. And I don’t want to hear any of the ”personal accountability… it was his choice” baloney either. It is the NFL’s responsibility to ensure that independent physicians can evaluate whether it is appropriate for a player to continue playing. That is why the Redskins drafted a good back-up QB like Cousins in case RGIII needs some time to recover.

  40. OK…I live in Birmingham and let me give some information to you that you might not know….Dr. James Andrews, most of the time, does not even perform his own surgeries….He is now teaching. Well known to many but not all….So, with that said, why don’t we hear the FULL story?

  41. Shanahan is a notorious liar. He’s admitted several times that he’s lied about his move to San Francisco and why he wouldn’t come back to Denver when Elway begged him to come back, he’s vacillated on the story about having a QB throw the ball at Al Davis back in ’94. He used to say it was Grbac or one of those guys who wasn’t even on the team, when it was Steve Young who he had do it. Doesn’t surprise me if he is indeed lying about claiming that Dr. Andrews cleared Bob.

  42. Is it a rule that an evaluation by a M.D. _HAS_ to be done in these cases?

    We know about concussions, but what about orthopedic injuries?

  43. Shannahan has a long and bad history of ruining his own players especially low round running backs. RG3 needs to protect himself.

  44. I don’t blame RG and Shanahan for working around the medical staff — this has been among the most incompetent medical staffs in football for years now. This team is always among the league leaders in games missed by starters due to injury. Remember when Laron Landry just couldn’t get healthy? Didn’t miss a start this year. This year they had 4 key starters (Orakpo, Carriker, Jammal Brown, Merriweather) play in a whopping 5 games combined this season. Two of those guys (Brown, Orakpo) went on IR after they re-aggravated injuries that Andrews “successfully” operated on. And seriously, what the hell does a “gameday surgeon” do anyway?

  45. I don’t think it is conscience, it is respect. Who is going to respect a knee doctor who can’t tell what a knee injury looks like. If I knew a doctor would say someone can play football after a clear hyper extension like that I’d make fun of people who went to him.

  46. Shanahan is on a mission to win games so he can save his job. He is not worried about RG3’s knee. That should be pretty obvious here.

    And in fairness, he probably isn’t the only NFL coach thinking like that either.

  47. What is the big deal? No “clearance” is required for anything other than potential concussions. The Dr. wants to make sure he isn’t viewed negatively. Coaches constantly lie so there is no news there. Who’s to say that Shanny wasn’t told by someone (incorrectly guessing) that RG3 was good to go? Granted, he said the Dr told him but whatever. The bottom line is that the player avoided the med staff so he could go back on the field. If anyone is to blame here, it is RG3.

  48. Shanahan thought that he was talking to Dr. Andrews, but it was really the ballboy…..like that commercial when the janitor is giving the 49ers a pregame peptalk!

  49. “Routinely, those doctors tell coaches what the coaches want to hear about player availability, knowing that if the coaches aren’t told what they want to hear they’ll find another doctor who will.”

    As a doc disrespect your comments that we routinely put a game above someone’s safety. Making a blanket statement like that diminishes your credibility as a writer. Professional doctors always put the players safety first. Sometimes, it’s not a popular opinion in a competitive environment. But who gets the finger pointed at them first when someone is gets an injury on top of another injury – the doc does, not the coach. If the NFL would take the same precautions with all injuries that they are starting to do with concussions, there would be less confusion and finger pointing. The issue would be moot.

  50. To JoeyjojoJR

    You are wrong… A team physician signs a contract with the team. Otherwise they are not legally allowed to be called ‘team physician.’ I treat many pro’s but I am not contracted by the team so I cannot claim to be their team physician….. And it’s not the highest bidder… The liability is too high to risk a bidding war…. Really?

  51. My conspiracy theory of the day:

    Did the NFL tell Andrews to leak this kind of info? Like the article says, he doesn’t need the Skins to be the go to guy for NFL players.

    Players lawsuit pending basically says “the NFL doesn’t care about our long term health”. The NFL basically is countering with “the players are grown men who don’t want to come out, and aren’t forced back in, and the routinely hide or downplay injuries”.

    Is it a just random that we are getting stories about a player getting what looked to be a bad injury and now even bothering to talk to the doctors?

    Was this a plan before, or has it been shaped by things such as another former player (and lifelong scum bag) admitting to purposely letting the guy he is paid to protect get hurt?

    Conspiracy theory over

  52. Dr. Andrews is not the official team physician of the Redskins. He is probably just one of Dan Snyder’s buddies who likes to fly on private jets. Who wouldn’t? Of course he would likely get paid for any documented medical services or procedures he provides to any patient/player.

    Players, just like any patient, can refuse or try to seek treatment from anyone. Tom Brady chose to have his surgery performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in LA, not the Mass General doctors of the Patriots (in the process, pissing off the Patriots). Alex Smith went to Dr. Andrews in Alabama, not the “official” physicians of Stanford University. There are many examples.

    To awareness 18:

    I’m sure you are very accomplished, and there is certainly no shame in treating pro athletes, but you are not an official team physician because you don’t have a contract with a pro team, because you realize that is not worth it to pay a team for such a title.

    By saying that I am wrong, you are either very ignorant for someone who does what you do, or lying.

    Though I would have an inherent distrust of any team physician, or anyone in a position with a similar conflict of interest, I would side with Dr. Andrews on this specific argument completely. He probably never had the chance to evaluate Griffin. Also, Shanahan is a habitual liar.

  53. i don’t see what the problem is. these players are _PAID_ to do something physical. they didn’t ‘get hurt on the job’, getting hurt is part of the job of pro football at the NFL level.

    and they were fighting to get into the playoffs that required an amazing 6 or 7 game win streak to accomplish (as we all know).

    do what it takes to get the job done .. how many times you hear a player talk “we’re warriors” .. yeah .. well .. there it is .. they are ‘warriors’ who chose to do what they do.

    and if getting the job done at the NFL level means fabricating a conversation with the dr. to get the player back out there then that is what it takes.

    good job coach and QB .. good job

  54. JOEJOE

    You are making many assumptions in your statement assuming they are factual. I am not a team physician not because of your assumptions, but because I just don’t have all the connections in the right places to be honest. I said you were wrong because your assumptions in your first comments were inaccurate – not because I’m ignorant or being inappropriate or trying to instigate an argument. I know the law in this field sir or ma’am, respectfully stated. Again, I’m not lying. We agree on some issues but not all.

    Have a good night

  55. Ps. I think it is worth being a team physician in all the right circumstances. Both professionally and for the knowledge working with other healthcare professionals with like minded passion to treat the best athletes. Pleas do not assume you know my reasons for conducting my life and spew them as though they are facts. You don’t know my heart, my intentions and my convictions – only yours.


  56. Suspend Shannahan for a year…RG-3 too, why not? Shannahan lied, and RG-3 evaded the Dr What would Goodell do?

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