John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Dr. James Andrews helped draw the battle lines between Griffin and Shanahan.
If there was a point when the battle lines between Griffin and his head coach were firmly drawn it came when Dr. James Andrews first tried to explain his role in managing Griffin's health.
Andrews was already in the spotlight after treating Griffin after the quarterback had sprained his knee against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14.
That was enough to keep Griffin on the shelf in Week 15, but he was soon back for the season's final two games. The fact he hobbled through both weeks only served as another indictment of the decision to let Griffin play against Seattle.
Andrews stoked those flames when he seemed to indicate he hadn't cleared Griffin's return from that initial knee sprain, via USA Today's Robert Klemko:
Shanahan said he let Griffin return with the blessing of James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon, who was on the sideline.
Andrews, however, told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday that he never cleared Griffin to go back into the game, because he never even examined him.
(Griffin) didn't even let us look at him. 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.
Those comments made Shanahan culpable for Griffin's injury, an idea the coach quickly refuted:
Yet when asked by news reporters, Shanahan described a conversation with Andrews this way:
He's on the sidelines with Dr. Andrews. He had a chance to look at him and he said he could go back in, Shanahan said Dec. 10. (I said) 'Hey, Dr. Andrews, can Robert go back in?'
Yeah, he can go back in.
Robert, go back in.
That was it.
A seemingly obvious contradiction, right? Wrong. Andrews put the farce surrounding Griffin into overdrive when he backtracked from these comments and suggested he was in lock-step with Shanahan, via The Post's Mike Jones:
Coach Shanahan didn’t lie about it, and I didn’t lie. I didn’t get to examine [Griffin’s knee] because he came out for one play, didn’t let us look at him and on the next play, he ran through all the players and back out onto the field. Coach Shanahan looks at me like, ‘Is he OK?’ and I give him the ‘Hi’ sign as in, ‘He’s running around, so I guess he’s OK.’ But I didn’t get to check him out until after the game. It was just a communication problem. Heat of battle. I didn’t get to tell him I didn’t get to examine the knee. Mike Shanahan would never have put him out there at risk just to win a game.
Things were already this complicated, and Griffin hadn't even undergone surgery yet.