Published September 03, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – You would be hard pressed to find anyone in any field with a more impressive resume than Dr. James Andrews, the famed orthopedic surgeon who also moonlights as one of the team doctors for the Washington Redskins.
Andrews has been the go-to guy for just about every major professional sports star who needed knee, elbow or shoulder surgery over the past 20 years.
He's the artist who reconstructed Adrian Peterson's knee so well that the reigning NFL MVP was back on a football field in just over eight months, looking stronger that he was before. And let's remember A.P. not only tore his ACL, he also damaged his MCL, LCL and meniscus.
But Peterson's amazing recovery should have been the exception to the rule, not the new norm.
Instead it's become the definitive timetable -- just ask NBA star Derrick Rose, who got killed for sitting out the 2012-13 season after tearing his ACL in the playoffs during the prior campaign.
Peterson's miraculous comeback was the perfect storm, though. Andrews himself said the All-Pro's knee was "pristine" when he opened it up and A.P. has always been one of the hardest-working men in show business, a player who took to rehabilitation like a fish to water.
In the past, an ACL tear took a full calendar year to rehabilitate and many medical professionals, including Andrews, would argue a patient needed a full 24 months before he was back to full strength, both physically and mentally.
"I say an athlete after (an) ACL (tear) is much better the second year back than the first year back," Andrews said. "First year back is a wash. After 24 months, (an athlete is) a lot more mature and confident."
Andrews even admitted that Peterson was an anomaly.
"He has defied all odds," Andrews told the St. Paul Pioneer Press when talking about Peterson. "If you operate on the right athlete, it makes you look pretty darn good as a physician. Adrian was that genetic athlete who could do what he's done."
Robert Griffin III will try to emulate Peterson on Monday and actually attempt to beat the veteran superstar's ridiculous healing timetable by two weeks when he starts under center for the Redskins as they open the 2013 NFL season by hosting NFC East-rival Philadelphia on "Monday Night Football."
The reigning NFL Rookie of the Year, of course, spearheaded Washington's 2012 revival, but was knocked out of a wild card game versus the Seattle Seahawks with tears to both the lateral collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee on Jan. 6.
RG3 targeted training camp to get back to work and had to be held back a bit for his own good, creating some friction with his head coach Mike Shanahan, something Griffin had to address and quash.
"I just want everybody to know that if there's any questions about a rift between me and coach, or if there's a conflict, there is no conflict. Coaches coach, I'm a player," RG3 said. "Coach has a plan and I'm abiding by that plan. I'm doing everything that they ask me to do. I trust those guys. They want me to have a long career and that's what this part of this plan is about."
RG3 dubbed Shanahan's plan "Operation Patience," but playing eight months after an ACL and LCL tear doesn't exactly scream moderation.
Despite all the red flags, Griffin was cleared to play in Week 1, something Shanahan confirmed early this week with one caveat: "unless there's some crazy setback that we don't anticipate."
If I'm Shanahan, I'm actively looking for that "crazy setback."
According to Shanahan, Andrews had "a couple of concerns" before clearing Griffin, and all reports indicate those concerns revolved around how RG3 is going to be used. My guess is Andrews is comfortable enough with Griffin dropping back and throwing the football but doesn't want the dynamic second- year star running too much read-option.
But play-calling is not Andrews' domain -- a team doctor's primary function in sports is a simple one, evaluating if a player is healthy enough to get back into action.
That said, being cleared to play in an NFL game isn't a firm declaration stating the player is at 100 percent.
Shanahan should weigh Andrews' reservations very carefully and handing the keys to Kirk Cousins for a month or so before giving them back to RG3 for the next 10 years or so is not only the prudent decision here, it's the most logical one.
For every Peterson, there are dozens of players who never return to their prior form after tearing their ACLs and RG3 has done it twice now.
Meanwhile, Andrews' own words should be on a constant earworm-like loop in Shanahan's psyche.
"He (Peterson) has defied all odds."
Do those same odds says RG3 is another "right athlete?"
Shanahan's future employment depends on it.