Every home Sunday, Daniel Snyder, owner of the Redskins, sits in his box with some of the best media minds in the country. He should get their advice before the credibility of his organization, which was already hanging by damaged ligaments, is completely shredded. Snyder has backed off his micromanagement of the team, but has kept in place the mendacious culture he fostered. The public relations around Robert Griffin III's knee injury has been a case study of how not to conduct crisis management.
First, the team's orthopedic consultant, Dr. James Andrews, whose name will be accompanied until further notice by the adjective "renowned," said, despite team reports to the contrary, that he had not personally authorized RGIII's return to the Baltimore game where he first injured his knee. Then this Sunday, Griffin was re-injured, his knee buckling in the most gruesome sight on a Redskins’ gridiron since Lawrence Taylor delivered a compound fracture to Joe Theismann’s leg. Yesterday, Coach Shanahan said that the MRI was inconclusive because it didn’t reveal whether the injuries were old or new. Uh, I may be wrong, but they certainly looked new to me. In the last three weeks, there hasn’t been a more examined anatomical part than this special quarterback’s knee. Can’t they compare yesterday’s MRI with the one from three weeks ago and make a determination? And should Shanahan, who has perhaps the biggest stake in the timing of Griffin’s injury because it either absolves nor indicts his decision to leave him in the game on basically one leg, really be making making these statements?
Box mates like Jay Carney or Andrea Mitchell can tell you this isn’t the way to get ahead of a crisis. Don’t have football coaches give medical information that bloggers can then misinterpret even further. Get experts to give all of the most accurate information you can; and when you don’t know, say so.
We can argue whether the Redskins are equal in import to affairs of state. But based on interest, viewer and readership, the affairs of Ashburn are followed with rare intensity. My guess is that The Post sports section received considerably more clicks yesterday than the rest of the Web site. The Redskins need a press operation as least as competent as the White House’s.
Of course, all of this frustration is an attempt to mask the deeper disillusionment of the Redskins fan today. We were starting to believe again, but our dreams hung by a ligament. And it was all so predictable, this tragedy. A player who will never, never quit. (Robert Griffin III reminds me of the greatest Spanish bullfighter, Manolete, who only killed the bull from over the top, where the risk of goring was greatest.) And a coach who wouldn’t make him quit and thus may have put both their careers at risk. In this case, the crime may actually have been worse than the cover-up.