“All day long, we’ve been talking about the knee,” said Erskine Gregory, 66, a retired union laborer hanging out with a group of guys near the Dupont Circle chessboards. He stepped away to get a quick break from a noisy boom box and the even noisier who-to-blame debate. (“They should have let the white boy play the fourth quarter,” shouted Nenja Garrett, 38, a cook from Southeast Washington. “Cousins is a good quarterback. That knee is on their hands.”)
The chatter was all ligaments and tendons as fans, following the medical news suture by suture, unleashed their inner orthopedists.
“Do we know if it was the ACL or the LCL?” asked David Smith, 43, a clerk at JR Cigars in downtown Washington, where the air was full of tobacco smoke and surgical gossip.
“As of this morning they were speculating that it was both,” replied his co-worker C.W. Hartmann, 52, his teeth clinched around a smoldering Neerup pipe. “We won’t know more for a couple of hours.”
“He’s a young man. He’ll recuperate,” Smith assured.
The Knee loomed over Washington high and low, black and white, official and unofficial.
At the White House, press secretary and Redskins fan Jay Carney described the constantly repeated image of Griffin’s leg buckling during Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks as “painful to watch.”
A few blocks away, burrito vendor John Rider said every third customer was bringing up Griffin’s surgery. “The overriding sentiment seems to be that they should have taken him out before the second half,” he said from the steam cloud filling his cart near McPherson Square.
Takoma Park firefighter Jesse Sandford said the surgery was the talk of the truck Wednesday morning as the squad returned from a call. He and his fellow EMTs see plenty of sports knee injuries, mostly soccer in that part of Montgomery County, but no one could guess how Griffin would fare.
“We take them in [to the hospitals] but never know how they turn out,” Sanford said. “I think he’s a strong-headed dude; he was going to play whether they wanted him to or not.”
Sports talk radio went All Knee, All The Time, but still couldn’t meet the demand.
“We could take calls on this every second of the day, 24 hours — every line is constantly full,” said Chris Kinard, program director for 106.7 The Fan. The station has stayed with the knee story “pretty much 95 percent of the time” since Griffin’s potentially devastating injury Sunday. “One show ends and the next comes on, and immediately it has full phone lines,” he said. “We don’t even have to tell them what we’re talking about.”
Griffin’s knee figured into every part of Jason Carter’s day. The Seat Pleasant electrician woke his wife with news of the surgery Wednesday soon after dawn.