James Andrews, RGIII and ESPN

August 29, 2013

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

For several months, anyone paying attention has assumed that RGIII will start the Monday Night Football opener against the Eagles. I mean, if that game began with Kirk Cousins under center, 60,000 people at FedEx Field would immediately faint. (Everyone else would still be walking to their seats). This was as foregone as fore can be gone.

And yet, we’ve still asked questions on the topic, and transcribed answers on the topic, and watched televised debates on the topic, and listened to sports-talk callers on the topic. Why? Because many parts of life are boring and/or terrible, and by distracting ourselves with Byzantine nonsense, we can temporarily ignore that reality. This also explains Miley Cyrus, and the scrapbooking industry.

No no no, scratch that, I meant, because this is the most important body part of the most important athlete on the most important team in Washington, and there’s a tremendous amount of curiosity, and even if the end result is a foregone conclusion, all the stories haven’t always matched up perfectly, and so the curiosity remains.

Thus, let me quickly review two recent instances of curiosity.

WHAT DID LISA SALTERS REPORT?

As you might recall, I did a blog item the night the Redskins played the Steelers about a pregame report from Monday Night Football sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

“Redskins owner Dan Snyder has told us that the decision about when Robert Griffin III will be cleared to play will be up to team orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews,” Salters said. “And it will be Andrews’s decision alone. And Robert Griffin knows that, because he told me so.”

Later that week, a reporter asked Mike Shanahan about that report.

“Dan Snyder had said on ESPN on Monday night that Dr. Andrews was gonna make that final decision, it was all in his hands,” the reporter asked the coach. “Can I just get your thoughts on that, because I feel like we’ve heard so many different versions of that.”

“Well, I did talk to Dan today,” Shanahan responded. “He did share with me that he does not remember saying that. Well, let’s say he did say it. I would never go against the doctor anyhow. If the doctor felt like he wasn’t ready to play, I surely wouldn’t play him. I mean, if [Snyder] said it or not, if Dr. Andrews said to me, hey, I don’t think Robert’s ready, I surely wouldn’t put Robert out there. But Dr. Andrews could tell me that he is ready, and if I thought something was wrong with Robert in a two-hour practice, I wouldn’t put him out there.”

Because I was still confused and/or curious about that exchange, I asked Salters about the issue during ESPN’s Monday Night Football conference call on Thursday.

“Just to clarify, I never reported that Dan Snyder told me, I said he told us,” Salters correctly pointed out. “And by us, that means ESPN. So Dan Snyder had had a conversation with a  member of our crew. And I was told about the conversation, that I should be able to use that information for the broadcast, which is normal.”

Soon after, Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman interjected, noting that he was that crew member who had spoken with Snyder.

“It was me who approached Dan on the field, flat-out, before the game, to say Dan, this is a huge topic of conversation in this preseason game that we’re doing, I would like to accurately report: If Robert feels 100 percent and Coach Shanahan feels that Robert’s 100 percent and you feel Robert’s 100 percent place but Dr. James Andrews feels he’s not 100 percent, who has the final say? Because I would like us to accurately report on the air what the situation is. And Dan Snyder said to me, flat-out, that it’s Dr. James Andrews who has the ultimate call whether Robert plays or not. And I asked Dan if that was good for me to use on the air, and he said absolutely. And I shared that with Lisa in pregame, because I thought that was big news, given all that we’ve read, all that we’ve heard, and it’s still feeling a little grey, and we wanted to be crystal clear in our reporting.”

WHAT DID ADAM SCHEFTER REPORT ON WEDNESDAY?

Friends, I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure.

“There’s no doubt I’m playing Week 1,” RGIII said during an August press conference.

“Shanahan has said he expects Griffin to play against the Eagles unless his knee suffers a setback. Shanahan said after Andrews’s most recent exam of Griffin’s knee that Andrews felt the same way,” The Post reported on Tuesday night.

“Robert Griffin III will start the Washington Redskins’ season opener on ‘Monday Night Football’ on Sept. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles, sources close to the star quarterback said Wednesday,” Schefter wrote on Wednesday.

“Robert Griffin III will start the Washington Redskins’ season opener on ‘Monday Night Football’ on Sept. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles,” I could have confidently written at any point over the past two months.

Still, I listened to Schefter’s appearance later Wednesday on ESPN 980′s The Sports Fix, trying to figure out what exactly was this latest development. Like, what changed on Wednesday to allow the decision to be made?

“I don’t think that they’ve made the decision today,” Schefter said. “I don’t think that’s the situation.”

So, the quarterback has been saying for weeks he will play in the opener. On Wednesday, sources close to him said he would play in the opener. And no decision was made on Wednesday. Just so we’re clear on the news.

“I think it’s a case where basically they’ve watched him in two weeks of practices, and what they’ve come away thinking is this guy really looks ready, and most important, no swelling in his knee, no physical setbacks, no side effects of anything that he’s done in practice,” Schefter continued. “So at this point it’s just delaying the inevitable. Yeah, he’s starting. I mean, what is there to wait for? Dr. Andrews basically cleared him medically before training camp….He’s seen the knee. He’s watched RGIII. He knows the situation. Again, I think we all knew that this was going to come, but it’s just basically official now. He’s gonna start. That’s it.”

“Will they make it official [Thursday] night after the official medical clearance?” Kevin Sheehan asked Schefter.

“It’s official now,” responded Schefter, mere seconds after calling it “basically official.” “I mean, how many times do you want to make this official? To me, it was official when they, I mean, it was unofficial when they said a couple weeks ago yeah, our full expectation is that he’s going to be starting the Monday [night game]. Bruce Allen said it. Mike Shanahan said it. Everybody who’s watched it has said it….They’ve seen enough. They’re impressed enough. And he’s fared well enough in these practices to say yeah, he’s starting that Monday Night game.”

Basically.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | August 29, 2013