“When you get out in the open field and you’re running and you see three guys coming,” said Green, who retired after the ’08 season, “instead of saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to get this first down,’ it’s more: ‘You know what? It really doesn’t give me much of an advantage to go against these two or three guys.’
“I guess it does change your frame of mind a little bit.”
After Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a “mild” concussion in Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons — a debatable description, according to a physician who independently evaluates Houston Texans players — the questions circulating throughout the league are whether the injury will change Griffin, and how much it will compel the Redskins to change around him.
Griffin suffered the injury in the third quarter Sunday when he scrambled to his right, attempted to slide, and was sandwiched between two Falcons defenders. He walked off the field and later headed to the locker room. He didn’t return.
Green, now 42, lacked the mobility that won Griffin the Heisman Trophy last year and propelled him to the No. 2 overall spot in this year’s draft. Running is a fundamental part of Griffin’s game and a prime reason why the Redskins traded four high draft picks to the St. Louis Rams to move up in the draft.
Asking him to abandon his instincts would dramatically alter the Redskins’ offense, reduce Griffin’s value and, according to longtime NFL coach Dick Vermeil, prove futile.
“If he can run, he will run. That’s all there is to it,” Vermeil said. “I don’t care what you do. If a guy can really run, he’s going to run, and he’s going to make some plays.”
Vermeil, now retired, added that the worst thing the team and Coach Mike Shanahan could do is overreact to Griffin’s concussion, despite the NFL’s recent priority on protecting players from head injuries.
Shanahan said Monday that Griffin showed no further symptoms after Sunday’s game, but whether Griffin plays in this week’s home game against the Minnesota Vikings will be decided later this week. The NFL now uses independent concussion consultants to evaluate and clear players for games. Even if Griffin is a full participant in this week’s practices, he will visit a concussion expert for an objective opinion and clearance to play against the Vikings.
Howard Derman, a neurologist and co-director of Houston’s Methodist Concussion Center, is the independent evaluator who examines Texans players after concussions. He said a “mild” concussion is a general term that usually means a player did not lose consciousness and, if appropriate recovery time is allowed — at least a few days without contact to the head — a player such as Griffin won’t necessarily be more susceptible to future brain injuries. Within the first days after a concussion, though, the brain remains vulnerable.