Play or Sit: the coaches' quandary
NEW YORK (AP) — At some point, an injured player, even a star like Robert Griffin III, is too hampered to help a team. Deciding when enough is enough is the problem.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan became the target of widespread criticism after Griffin reinjured his right knee in Sunday's 24-14 wild-card loss to Seattle. The questions have ranged from whether Shanahan made his sensational rookie's health his No. 1 priority to whether the protocol for dealing with injuries was followed.
Coaches who have been in such tricky situations say the solutions aren't complicated.
"You have to rely on the doctors, the health always has to come first," said Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy. "If the doctor says he can go or he can't go, you don't argue, there's not even a discussion.
"If the doctors say, 'Here are the limitations, he can go,' then you have to judge for yourself. How is he mentally? How limited is he physically?"
Dungy recalls many times when players wanted to go and he had to say no. While coaching the Buccaneers, Dungy told Warren Sapp he wouldn't be suiting up for a national TV game against Miami because Sapp had cracked a bone in his hand.
Sapp wanted to wear a splint, but team doctors said it was too soon for him to play.
"Warren was upset," Dungy said.
"If you ask the player, it means nothing. It's rare a player will tell you he can't do this or this or that."
Shanahan said Monday that Griffin will see renowned orthopedist James Andrews for more examinations on the knee, leaving open the possibility the quarterback will be sidelined for a lengthy period.
Shanahan added he thought he made the "right decisions" and it would be "crazy" to think he would purposely sacrifice Griffin's career to win a game.
But Shanahan admitted he did not talk to team doctors initially after Griffin was hurt in the first quarter.
"I went up to Robert. I said, 'You OK?'" Shanahan said. "And he said, 'I'm fine.'"
Not exactly the way some coaches would have handled it.
"You never put a player in harm's way," said Herm Edwards, who defended how Shanahan handled the situation during his ESPN show.
Sports Photo Galleriesview all
- 51863Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 14915Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms drink in success of 'Hangover' series
- 9511Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 7908Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 7474Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 6783Blake Shelton's "Healing the Heartland" televised tornado benefit set for Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena
- 6733Rock, pop, country acts give talents and time to help Oklahoma tornado victims