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Adidas, RGIII and ‘All In for Week 1’

If 2013 Robert Griffin III does not begin to play more like 2012 Robert Griffin III in the near future, here is a culprit you will increasingly hear about: Adidas.

Yes, that’s right, a whole lot of people remember the “All In For Week 1” business, and are now wondering whether this ad campaign put unfair pressure on the quarterback to return before he was quite ready. And while most armchair doctoring strikes me as a bit facile, I do kinda believe that your corporate sponsor shouldn’t be setting your medical goals more than six months before the season opener.

“The biggest scandal in Washington has nothing to do with the federal government,” Boomer Esiason said on CBS Sports Radio this week. “It’s about why Robert Griffin III is actually playing. Clearly, he shouldn’t have started that playoff game against Seattle last year, but that’s old news. Then, soon after major reconstructive knee surgery, his shoe company sponsor devoted a major ad campaign, pledging that RGIII was All In for Week 1. Despite similar promotional hype, Derrick Rose opted to play it conservative and not return for last spring’s NBA playoffs, even after receiving medical clearance.

“But RGIII started the opener and two subsequent losses, even though as noted orthopedist Neal Elattrache pointed out, he’s still in recovery mode. It’s mind boggling how Washington’s owner, head coach and team doctors are just not protecting RGIII from himself. It’s time for the grownups to stand up and keep him out of harm’s way until he recovers, although I think it’s probably a little too late for that.”

“I love RGIII, to whatever little tiny degree I know him,” ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg said. “The few times that we’ve met him, he seems to be a young man with his head on completely straight. And he’s a phenomenal player, and everything else. But I do slightly blame him for all of the attention. I really think with him and Derrick Rose and a lot of other guys, when you get hurt, I don’t like the idea of creating an advertising campaign based upon how quickly you’re gonna come back. Because I just think you are now inviting all of this attention onto your return, and I don’t think that’s healthy.

“And I don’t think it worked well for Derrick Rose this past year – look at all the criticism that he got – and I don’t think it’s working well now for RGIII,” Greenberg continued. “All In for Game 1? That’s not a good idea. Coming back from a serious knee injury is not something that you should be trying to turn into an opportunity like that. That’s serious business. And if you’re not 100 percent ready, I think that puts undue pressure on everybody involved in the situation, and I think it’s part of the problem here.”

“Maybe Coach Mike Shanahan’s lousy decision to keep Griffin in against Seattle until he broke, or Griffin’s foolish pride to ask, almost demand, to play, or Dr. James Andrews’s role as Doc Irrelevant, would all be forgotten or forgiven because Griffin would return as the same RGIII,” Boz wrote. “Wasn’t that what the hour-long knee-recovery TV special implied? What knee injury? Look at Adrian Peterson, who came back as the same menace after surgery. Wasn’t that what months of All in for Week 1 meant?”

Griffin, of course, heard and responded to much of this criticism back in February, when the campaign first launched.