The story of Robert Griffin III’s rehabilitation from January knee surgery has trickled out in occasional tweets and texts, in vague proclamations from the Washington Redskins and Griffin’s doctor of the quarterback’s ahead-of-schedule progress, and in sporadic interviews.
With the midpoint between Griffin’s Jan. 9 surgery and the Redskins’ Sept. 9 regular season opener at FedEx Field having passed earlier this month, however, the condition of Griffin’s body and mind remains unknown, at least to those outside his inner circle.
“Physically and mentally, he’s doing as well as he always has, because of his attitude,” Griffin’s mother, Jacqueline, said in a telephone interview last week. “He’s doing great. He knows that his surgery was a success and he’s ahead of schedule, and he’s looking forward to the upcoming season. Nothing has changed, really. We’ve always had a positive outlook, no matter what happens.”
As the Redskins prepare for the first full-squad workouts of 2013, which begin Monday at Redskins Park in Ashburn, the mystery surrounding Griffin’s condition may soon be over. Members of the media will be permitted to view parts of those workouts Thursday, and while Griffin is not expected to be involved in offensive drills, he will perform his daily workout routine with team trainers and other rehabbing teammates.
That same day, Griffin is expected to address as a whole the media who cover the Redskins for the first time since Jan. 6, when he was injured during the fourth quarter of the team’s 24-14 loss to Seattle in the first round of the NFC playoffs. It was later revealed that he tore the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, and three days later in Gulf Breeze, Fla., surgeons — overseen by James Andrews, a Redskins team orthopedist — also repaired a torn meniscus and revised the reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament that was first surgically repaired in 2009.
The injury, which occurred when Griffin remained in the Seahawks game despite visual evidence that his injured knee was deteriorating, set off a firestorm of criticism and debate over whether Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, or perhaps Griffin himself, should have removed the quarterback from the game sooner.
In the more than four months since, Griffin’s media availability has been limited to a handful of cursory group interviews, a sit-down interview with the in-house “Redskins Nation” that primarily rehashed the 2012 season and an ESPN The Magazine cover story.
In March, Griffin sent a cryptic text message to an ESPN host in which he said, “I know where my responsibility is within the dilemma that led to me having surgery to repair my knee and all parties involved know their responsibilities as well.” Efforts to engage Griffin in an elaboration of that statement have been unsuccessful.
“I don’t feel like playing against the Seahawks was a mistake,” Griffin said in the ESPN story. “But I see the mistake in it. With what happened and how everything was running — you take me out. If that happened again next year, I’d come out of the game and sit until I was 100 percent healthy.”
Asked on Wednesday if she has any regrets about how the Seattle game played out, Jacqueline Griffin said: “No, not really. If we had raised him differently, and if we didn’t have the mind-set we have — that no matter what, we’re going to fight to the end — then it would be easy to say we should have done this, or should have done that. But knowing how we raised him and his mind-set, no. It’s nobody’s fault. There were decisions made all around. And everyone has learned from those decisions.”
According to Jacqueline Griffin, her son’s 2009 ACL surgery, while he was still at Baylor University, and the long rehab it required made this one easier to handle.
“There is an adjustment period, where you say, ‘This is what happened, and now we have to move on to the healing process,’ ” she said. How long did that adjustment period take for her son? “To be honest,” she said, “after the surgery was over, and the doctors explained what he was going to be faced with — the next day we were rehabbing.”
Griffin has done little to rein in the expectations for a speedy return, appearing in Adidas commercials and advertisements professing to be “All in for Week 1.” At the Redskins’ draft party at FedEx Field last month, he performed jumping jacks on stage before addressing fans. Andrews has called his recovery “superhuman,” and Shanahan has predicted he would return to the field in record-setting time.
“I’m doing great,” Griffin said May 8 in brief remarks to reporters. “Knee feels fine. It’s about taking it slow. Each day is a better day.” On Friday, Griffin tweeted that he did some running and threw some passes on rollouts.
Jacqueline Griffin said she did not know any specifics about her son’s rehabilitation, referring those questions to Redskins trainers.
Neither team officials nor medical personnel will speak in detail about Griffin’s progress. While Griffin continues to go through rehabilitation in Ashburn, the Redskins have imposed an information blackout, putting his family members, for example, under the umbrella of the team’s public relations staff.
Asked Friday for an update on Griffin’s health, Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said: “We’re not really thinking about that until July. He’s doing well with the trainers. . . . Until he takes a physical, he’ll continue to work with them.”
Even normally gregarious teammates suddenly find themselves at a loss for words when the subject of Griffin’s condition is raised.
“We see him every day, working,” said veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall, one of the few Redskins who would speak on the record about Griffin. “It’s crazy how good he looks.”
“He’s a freak athlete,” said safety Jordan Bernstine, who has been rehabbing his own knee injury alongside Griffin this spring. “His recovery is coming along well ahead of schedule. The doctors will say he won’t be ready to do something until a certain point, and he’ll go out and do it before he’s expected. Just little things like that all the time.”
Safety Brandon Meriweather, also rehabbing from knee surgery, called Griffin a “genetic freak.” But none of the Redskins players would reveal any details of Griffin’s specific activities. Griffin is believed to have begun running on grass in mid-April, but the Redskins have not confirmed that.
Griffin also has a wedding to prepare for, as he and fiancee Rebecca Liddicoat plan to marry in July.
In his few public comments, the 23-year-old quarterback has hinted at some soul-searching that has taken place to process what happened at the end of the 2012 season, and he has further hinted at some conversations between himself and Shanahan to that end. Shanahan acknowledged during a news conference before the NFL draft last month that “you’re always hoping that you learn from your mistakes,” and that “one thing we’re going to make sure of is that Robert never plays if he’s not 100 percent.”
Mike Jones and Mark Maske contributed to this report.