RG3 Will Be Back, and Better Than Ever, for Washington Redskins

Ty SchalterNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 06:   Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins greets fans as he takes the field for their NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedExField on January 6, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Washington Redskins fans—and all football fans—got bad news this morning, as it was learned that Robert Griffin III suffered both ACL and LCL tears in the Redskins' Wild Card Round playoff loss.

Dr. James Andrews performed reconstructive surgery on both ligaments, per the Washington Post's Mark Maske. That procedure started the clock on the six to eight months of rehab Griffin will need.

While that clock ticks, football fans—especially Redskins fans—will be watching, waiting and hoping the "initial six to eight weeks" of recovery Maske's source described as "critical" goes off without a hitch. They'll be glued to the Internet all summer, desperate to see if Griffin is behind or ahead of schedule.

They should save themselves the heartburn—RGIII will come back better than ever.

Anyone who's watched Griffin play knows he possesses incredible physical talent. He's not just a great athlete in the sense that all NFL players are; he's special even by professional athlete standards. His rocket arm, foot speed, cutting and start-and-stop ability are off the charts.

It's natural to worry that knee surgery will sap him of some of the "magic." But RGIII's real magic isn't in his arm or his legs or his legs, it's in his mindset.

Back in the "dark ages" of medicine, as renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews told The New York Times' Toni Monkovic, ACL repairs weren't even attempted. Doctors would try to bolster the MCL, PCL and LCL while slicing away cartilage and bone to redistribute weight.

It didn't work. Legendary Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers, blessed with never before seen start-stop and cutting ability, had his career taken from him by that clumsy procedure.

Andrews doesn't use leeches or cut holes in bone to repair ACL injuries. According to the Pioneer Press, Andrews was the one who repaired Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's ACL just one year ago.

Peterson, of course, played the all of 2012 and rushed for 2,097 yards—the second highest single-season rushing total of all time.

Everybody is different; Griffin may not be able to recover like Peterson did. Andrews told the Pioneer Press, Peterson "defied all odds" to come back so quickly and play so well.

Andrews said something else, though—that Peterson "may be better" in 2013 than he was in 2012. ACL injuries usually take more than a full season to heal completely, so Peterson's knee may get even stronger.

Presuming Andrews does as good a repair job on Griffin's injury as he did on Peterson's, the only question is, how will Griffin respond to the rehab? Actually, that's not a question either; we know how Griffin will respond.

He's done this before.

In the third game of his sophomore season at Baylor, Griffin tore his right ACL—the same one he tore last week.

Griffin attended Baylor on a football scholarship, but had Olympic upside as a sprinter. Per Sally Jenkins at the Washington PostGriffin chose Baylor partly because of their outstanding track program.

And the time away from football caused Griffin to realize his passion for football. Griffin told the San Antonio Express-News' Jerry Briggs:

I was always one that played football because I was good at it. But once it was taken away from me, it helped me see how much I loved it. And how hard I worked through rehab, to get back, (it) just showed how much I wanted (to play).

Griffin has a long road ahead of him, but he's already had a taste of success on the professional level. His incredible rookie numbers, Pro Bowl nomination and ascension to folk-hero status in our nation's capital should all fill him with pride.

Instead, it's just given him an appetite. Check out this defiant postgame tweet of Griffin's, where he vows to "step up and fight."

Griffin could be taking it easy, resting on his laurels and lining up more endorsement commercials. But, fitting in with the humble, driven person he's always appeared to be, he's gearing up to meet this new challenge head on.

Last time, Griffin told Sports Illustrated, he felt "faster" and "stronger" after the surgery and during rehab. Even if Andrews' repair job only gets him back to where he was pre-injury, Griffin will have already had the benefit of his first full offseason with the Redskins playbook, coaches and teammates.

Besides, even if Griffin's knee hasn't recovered its full strength by the start of the season, Griffin won't be any less effective than he was in the first two drives of that game against the Seahawks.

If that's the worst-case scenario, Redskins fans can breathe easy.