His right knee had been hobbling him the entire game, and it finally buckled and gave out when he reached back to grab the low snap. It wasn’t a vicious hit from a blitzing linebacker. It was just the wrong step on a weak knee and it gruesomely buckled. And for the moment, it looked like RG III was going to have to be dramatically and sadly carted off for playing on a knee he probably shouldn’t have been playing on in the first place. Instead, he was able to stand up and heroically limp off the field.
RG III had given his all to win a playoff game for the Washington Redskins, and there is no way you could say he didn’t. I’m sure the 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks cut deep into Redskins fans’ hearts. but at least they knew their quarterback did everything in his power to win. He was their leader and went out nobly in defeat. But now, with the game over, many are questioning whether or not RG III should have even been playing in the first place.
Sure, it’s a fine question to ask and it’s an even easier question to ask after the game in fine 20-20 hindsight style. In the postgame coverage on Fox Sunday evening, Howie Long brought the question to the forefront of his game analysis. With such a bright future ahead of the rookie, Long questioned if it would have been better for the team RG III was simply benched for the rest of the season.
He even took the question further, and likened it to the Washington Nationals’ decision in baseball to shut down the young pitcher Stephen Strasburg to save him, in essence, for the next season, despite the team’s postseason potential. Similarly, Long suggested that RG III shouldn’t have been playing in that game, and that head coach Mike Shanahan should have shut him down late in the season to save RG III from injury. The debate on whether or not injured players should tough it out for the good of their team was on full display last weekend, and I must say I had no problem letting RG III play in that game if he was willing and able to play.
Of course, I am no doctor, and I certainly don’t want to see some player get injured to the point that he’s unable to walk for the rest of his life, but football is a tough sport and sometimes it demands that you play when you aren’t exactly 100 percent. RG III knows this. He’s a professional football player whose mind is set on winning Super Bowls. I don’t need to interview him or even quote him from some newspaper that he talked to last weekend. All you had to do is watch him play against the Seahawks, and know that he wants to win a championship. His actions on Sunday evening said enough about the guy’s character.
As I write this, RG III will be undergoing tests to determine the extent of his knee injury, so all of this could be moot. His injury could be bad enough to say that it really was stupid to play in that game. I do think, though, that RG III did the right thing, and tried to win a playoff game for his team. Whether it was right or wrong, he’s a football player, and he wants to win, at any cost.
Saturday’s NFC Wildcard game was a different story to it. With Minnesota in Green Bay to take on the Packers, the Vikings’ starting quarterback Christian Ponder was declared too injured to play, due to right-elbow tightness and swelling. His backup Joe Webb would have to start.
Well, the game for Vikings fans was no fun from the start. It became painfully clear that the Packers wouldn’t have to defend against Webb’s throwing ability because he was erratic and naccurate. It was a snoozer of a playoff game that, right or wrong, left you questioning Ponder’s leadership ability. Was he really that hurt that he couldn’t play a single snap in a playoff game?
I am reminded of a football coach I had in high school who would constantly ask players if they are hurt or are they injured. Most of the time, the players were simply hurt and would go back in and play. I wondered if Ponder was hurt or injured. He seemed pretty content watching from the sidelines. He seemed hurt to me but like I said, I’m not doctor.
The same question could be asked of RG III as well. Was he hurt or injured? I think we all know he was hurt. But perhaps, he was really injured? Either way, he knew his team’s season was on the line, and he was willing to do anything to get a victory. He wasn’t looking forward to next season. He wasn’t looking at saving his illustrious career. RG III was there to win one game and one game only, and I like his willingness to put it all on the line for his team. Stupid? Maybe. Tough? Damn right he’s tough.
Now, maybe RG III’s knee is completely blown out. He’ll then have to head down to Birmingham, Ala., to see Dr. Andrews, and have it rebuilt. This is no big deal. Hell, these days the question isn’t if you’ve blown out your knee, it’s how many times? And upon his return to the field, you know the rest of his team will quickly follow him as a leader.
RG III’s teammates know he’s putting the team first and I think his toughness will make for an even tighter-knit bunch of football players on that Redskins football team next year. Players will rally around RG III as a leader. This isn’t to say that Ponder’s teammates won’t rally around him in the future, but we know RG III’s actions on Sunday clinch it: he’s a leader.