Robert Griffin III is a fantastic athlete, an excellent quarterback and one of the league's brightest young stars.
But he is not a freak of nature like Adrian Peterson. Few human beings are. Actually, I'm sort of convinced that Peterson is some sort of advanced alien species that came to earth in order to gain intelligence about our species and chose to be a football player as his alias.
And for that reason, it wouldn't be wise for Washington Redskins fans to expect Griffin to rapidly recover from his knee surgery like Peterson did.
It simply isn't realistic.
There are several factors here. For one, Griffin already suffered an ACL tear in his right knee back in 2009. Peterson never had a history of knee issues in his left knee before tearing his ACL. As Dr. James Andrews noted after Griffin's surgery (via Mike Jones of The Washington Post), he had to repeat the reconstruction of Griffin's ACL:
The surgeon said "it is everybody's hope and belief" that Griffin "will be ready for the 2013 season." Andrews performed about five hours of surgery on the Redskins injured star quarterback Wednesday morning.
"Robert Griffin III had successful knee surgery early this morning. He had a direct repair of his LCL and a re-do of his previous ACL reconstruction," the statement said. "We expect a full recovery and it is everybody's hope and belief that due to Robert's high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season. The goal of his treatment is to give him the best opportunity for a long professional career."
Frankly, I would be shocked if Griffin was ready for the NFL season. And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a Griffin who looked as though he lost a step, at least early in his return.
That right knee is weakened, and even with the marvels of modern medicine and advanced surgical procedures, it's not crazy to ponder whether Griffin's knee will ever completely recover. Remember, we aren't all that far removed from the days when an ACL tear meant a player's career was basically over.
If nothing else, I think Griffin will need to take far longer in therapy, strengthening his knee. And remember, Peterson recovered at an unheard of pace—there are very few athletes capable of not only recovering as quickly as he did, but immediately playing at a top level upon his return.
I mean, Peterson had one of the best seasons for a running back in NFL history. Are you really expecting Griffin to even be as effective as he was during his rookie year?
Plus, playing quarterback brings its own set of challenges. As Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly notes, it's one thing for a running back to make an immediate impact upon his return. It's quite another for a quarterback to do so:
He needs time and reps. He can't just jump into the lineup the way Peterson could. A running back's job is to hit a hole and make yards. A QB's job—from hearing and echoing a play call to letting go of the ball—is the most difficult in sports. It requires patience, execution, mental acuity and athletic prowess. Griffin has all those things, but he won't be in peak form initially and likely won't return to the field in time to start Week One.
There are other factors at play here. Griffin is the centerpiece of the franchise in Washington, and there is absolutely no way the team will allow him to rush his return. Kirk Cousins is a viable backup, and the Redskins know the next decade for the franchise rests on the shoulders of Griffin.
Daniel Snyder and Mike Shanahan won't endanger Griffin's career so that he can return for the opening game. Not a chance.
Such was not the case for Peterson. Yes, he's the face of the Minnesota Vikings, but otherworldly running backs still aren't nearly as important as franchise quarterbacks. Plus, he's 27 years old—he's approaching the age when running backs start to naturally break down, though he's obviously got plenty of yards left in those legs.
The point is, Peterson didn't have his entire career ahead of him. There was less at stake for him while pushing his recovery. And even though the Vikings tried to ease him back into things, he was an established veteran and was going to be put back on the field when he said he was ready.
And boy, was he ever ready.
It all adds up to Griffin returning to the field sometime in October, at least in my opinion. His prior knee injuries and the fact that the Redskins will be extremely cautious with his recovery suggest a lengthy rehabilitation period.
Oh, and he's not an advanced alien species like Peterson. Fans shouldn't expect him to suddenly turn into an one.
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