Robert Griffin III: Letting Concussed QB Play Shows NFL Hasn't Learned a Thing

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins is attended to after taking a hard hit against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter at FedExField on October 7, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. Robert Griffin III left the game after the hit. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Thankfully, Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III seems to be showing no side effects of a concussion he suffered last week against the Atlanta Falcons and is expected to play Sunday afternoon when the Redskins take on the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field (h/t ESPN).

Redskins QB @rgiii listed as questionable, but expected to play Sunday barring setback in concussion tests: es.pn/UW3IW2.

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 12, 2012

With just over six minutes in the third quarter, RGIII took the snap on third-and-goal from the Falcons' 3-yard line. He rolled to his right and, with no receivers open, he tried to take off down the sideline.

As Falcons defenders closed in on him, he began to slide, only to be met on the way down by Falcons LB Sean Witherspoon, who laid a hit that left RGIII concussed and lying on the ground.

To their credit, the NFL is investigating how the Redskins handled the situation: not only for their characterization of the injury—Washington said that he was "shaken up"—and for a lack of a timely update on his condition, according to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal.

But there's a bigger issue here, and that's the fact that there is even a question as to whether RGIII will play this week.

He shouldn't.

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Yes, the NFL has instituted mandatory concussion testing following such an injury, testing that a player must pass with flying colors before he is allowed back onto the field. As previously alluded to in ESPN's report, RGIII has passed all of these tests thus far.

But concussion symptoms can come and go, especially when you are talking about a finely-tuned athlete who plays the most violent sport on the planet.

While he might feel great before kickoff, there is no guarantee that he won't experience some—or all—of the effects a concussion brings with it once the game gets underway, his juices get flowing and he's been hit once or twice.

For a player that means so much to the future of the Washington Redskins, erring on the side of caution and sitting him this week—especially against a Vikings defense that pressures the QB as well as anyone in the NFL—would be the smart play.

As it pertains to the NFL, however, the fact that RGIII could be and likely will be under center for the Redskins on Sunday proves that the league has learned nothing from past experiences.

More than 3,500 former NFL players are suing the league over head injuries (h/t ABC).

Think about that for a second. More than 3,500 players.

Nathan Fenno and Luke Rosiak of the Washington Times have compiled a comprehensive database of those former players, a list that includes more than 80 former quarterbacks.

It's time that commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith use their brains to protect their players.

Don't leave the door open, even a crack, for a player to get back onto the field for the following week. Take the decision-making process out of everyone's hands—players, coaches and doctors.

If you suffer a concussion, you sit a week.

Period, the end.

One game is not worth jeopardizing the long-term health of a player, of jeopardizing the long-term future of a team.

RGIII belongs on the sidelines this week, not in the Vikings' crosshairs.


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