Robert Griffin III is the Washington Redskins. This franchise has mortgaged a lot of its future in the hopes that the star rookie will lead them back to the postseason sooner rather than later. But Sunday's mild concussion could slightly delay his on-field progression.
If you didn't see the play, Griffin was scrambling on a 3rd-and-goal play. He tried to cut up the field to score a touchdown when Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon leveled him with a clean shot. Weatherspoon's shoulder met Griffin's head.
Griffin left the field and did not return. Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins took over at quarterback and did throw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss to give the Redskins a 17-14 lead before the Falcons scored the last 10 points of the game to remain undefeated.
After the game, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan stated that the team's doctors believed Griffin suffered "a mild concussion":
(Griffin) wasn't sure what quarter it was in the third quarter. So at that time, when he wasn't really sure what the score was, what the quarter was, we knew he had a mild concussion—at least according to the doctors. It feels good right now; a lot better right now. But that was...why he didn't go back into the game.
While Shanahan was trying to put a positive spin on it—and Griffin also sounded optimistic, of course, after the game—Griffin not being sure what quarter it was is going to resonate with a lot of people.
Thank you for all the prayers & supportI'm ok and I think after all the testing I will play next week.— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) October 7, 2012
The old notion of NFL players, coaches and fans—if you can stand, you can play—is no longer the prevailing one. Over the last few years, we have gotten smarter about injuries, particularly involving the head, so that macho facade should be put on the back burner.
There are no expectations for the Redskins this season, so what, honestly, is the harm in letting Griffin sit for a game or two if he is anything less than 100 percent?
Plus, we have seen how Griffin plays during his time at Baylor and now in the NFL. He is never going to be a quarterback who avoids hits. He wants to move around and gain every last possible inch he can.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reported that the league will look into the way the Redskins reported the injury after it occurred and during the postgame press conference, since it appeared they may have tried to minimize the severity of the injury.
But the bigger picture—really, the only picture—is of Griffin and his health. Concussions are not something to be taken lightly, whether they are reported as mild or not. We are talking about the head and brain.
Griffin will have plenty of time to make his mark on the NFL. If something is off, even in the slightest way, it is in the best interest of him and the Redskins that he doesn't rush back. All parties involved need to play this situation very carefully.