Robert Griffin III's 2013 NFL season hangs in limbo as the star Washington Redskins quarterback undergoes knee surgery Wednesday.
Griffin suffered a partially torn lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in his right knee, according to ESPN, during the Redskins' hard fought loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday. The injury threatens to sideline the QB well into next season.
Speaking in a news conference Monday, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan announced that MRI results prompted the team to send Griffin to Pensacola, Fla., on Tuesday to see orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, the Redskins' acting physician, to further examine the injuries and determine the best course of treatment.
It's also likely Griffin tore at least part of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), though it is unclear how severe the damage is, doctors said, due to a previous knee injury he suffered while playing at Baylor in 2009. Griffin's surgery will attempt to assess whether his ACL was damaged as well, a source familiar with Griffin's case told the Washington Post.
Griffin was already playing hurt in Sunday's match-up against the Seahawks before he suffered fresh injuries. The QB entered the wild card game nursing a previously sprained LCL in the same knee. He appeared to try and tweak the knee for his throwing stance in the first quarter and eventually was forced to leave the game after twisting his leg while scrambling to recover a wild shotgun snap in the fourth quarter.
According to Dr. James C. Dreese, a doctor for University of Maryland athletic teams, an LCL tear requires a longer rehabilitation process than an ACL tear.
"When the collateral ligaments are involved the concern in the long term is that controlling the rotational component of the knee can be more difficult," Dreese said, the Post reported.
If Griffin's ACL is torn in addition to his LCL, it wouldn't necessarily guarantee a longer rehabilitation process, Dreese added. The length of rehab depends on if doctors can repair the ligament surgically, or if they're required to use a more extensive form of reconstruction by using a graft from another part of the body or a cadaver.
Medical director and chief orthopedic surgeon of the Cincinnati Reds, Tim Kremchek says that a full-scale LCL tear is often worse than a torn ACL as it cannot be surgically repaired with an arthroscopic operation.
"It could be worse," Kremchek said Monday, before word of Griffin's condition emerged. "It depends on how much is done. It's a big, open incision. The rehabilitation is slowed down. It's not as quick to make the muscles strong. It's dicey. The outside ligaments are a worse problem. They're not as predictable as an ACL."
"Torn ACL" are two of the scariest words to players in the NFL. The injury typically requires a rehabilitation period of nine to 12 months, and it takes some athletes two years to return to full health after getting hurt. Of course, as many football fans would point out, there's also inspiring cases like Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who returned for a jaw-droppingly phenomenal season this year about eight months after tearing his ACL, coming within nine yards of breaking the NFL's single-season rushing record.
As Griffin awaits his fate in Florida, he appears to be feeling the criticism lobbed from some fans for not taking himself out of the Seahawks game, taking to Twitter to respond to his critics.
"Many may question, criticize & think they have all the right answers. But few have been in the line of fire in battle," wrote Griffin.
"... I thank God for perspective and because of that I appreciate the support from everyone. I also appreciate the criticism. ... When adversity strikes you respond in one of two ways....You step aside and give in..Or you step up and fight," Griffin tweeted.