Rob Dibble on RGIII and Mike Shanahan

January 9, 2013

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

When Rob Dibble creamed the Nationals’ Strasburg Shutdown strategy last summer, his argument was largely focused on the pitcher himself. Dibble seemed personally offended that Strasburg wasn’t beating down every door in Nationals Park, demanding to play, outraged by the plan to shut him down.

So while I assumed Dibble would support the Redskins’ handling of the RGIII situation, I hadn’t really thought it through all the way. Yes, Dibble gushed over Griffin for trying to play through horrific pain and obvious injury. But because he was ineffective on the field — and so clearly not himself — Dibble wanted a grown-up (Mike Shanahan) to step in and say, enough is enough.

And I’m not sure whether this is actually inconsistent with his Strasburg stance.

“You could just see one man deteriorating in front of our eyes,” Dibble said on his Fox Sports Radio show this week. “Was the Washington Redskins team given an opportunity to win that game?

“Robert Griffin III has been basically — I don’t want to say programmed — but this is what he’s done since he was a little kid,” Dibble later said. “From midget football all the way up. Just play. Play, play, play, ’til the game’s over, ’til you win the game. Heisman Trophy winner, he’s a smart guy. You’ve had some of the best [surgeons] do surgery on you. Sometimes they’ll say, well there’s not much more [damage] you can do. If it tears all the way off the bone, it was gonna happen anyway….

“Maybe he had a torn MCL at the end of the first half,” Dibble said. “But by playing a few more plays, tears the ACL, possibly tears the LCL. That’s a devastating injury, just one of them. And they don’t all turn out like Adrian Peterson. That’s what we want you to know. That Mike Shanahan basically said listen son, you know what, it’s your first year in the NFL, but we need this game so much, I’m going to leave you in there.”

Then Dibble turned his attention to the surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

“He’s the guy who’s operated on me and thousands of other athletes,” Dibble said. “He had the little trench coat on and a cute little Washington Redskins hat. And here’s the thing: He’s had heart attacks before, he’s not in great health himself. Why is James Andrews even on the sideline? Why is a doctor that does the surgery on the sideline? What can he tell you when Robert Griffin III is laying there, writhing in pain? Yeah, I think now is probably time to take him out. No, THAT’S THE HEAD COACH’S JOB.

“You also have 16 coaches underneath Mike Shanahan,” Dibble said. “Didn’t one guy have the [intestinal fortitude] to step up and say to Mike Shanahan, dude, we should probably put Kirk Cousins in now, because Robert has given everything he can. You’re killing the guy.

“You may be the quarterback, but you’re not the leader of the team,” Dibble said. “The leader is Mike Shanahan….I mean, at that point it’s a little too late to take Robert Griffin out of the game…..”

“Your assistant coaches, your offensive coordinator, all of those guys are representatives of the players as well,” Dibble argued. “They’re the go-between. Sometimes when you’re being unreasonable, they’re your conscience….One guy, whether it’s upstairs or right there next to you, even his son — Dad, the guy can’t play. Everybody else knew that Robert Griffin III can’t play except for Mike Shanahan?”

“I’m not even a Redskins fan, and I felt bad for that guy,” Dibble concluded. “The late Ken Caminiti is in the World Series, he’d waited his whole career to get there, he’s with the San Diego Padres, he’s swinging and falling down. And they’re not taking him out of the game.

“If everybody in the place knows, and everybody watching on TV knows — uncle. Robert Griffin III, there’s no shame on this guy. He wanted to keep playing. He really believes – and that’s why I love him – that he was the best option. He was not. Kirk Cousins probably could have won that game if you gave him 30 minutes in the second half.”

I’m kind of terrified by how reasonable that all sounds. Like, really terrified.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | January 9, 2013