Early Wednesday morning, Dr. James Andrews completed surgery to repair the right knee of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. More commonly known as RG3, Griffin suffered partial tears of his ACL and LCL in the Skins' playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday evening. The injury has been heavily scrutinized and turned the rookie quarterback's knee into the most highly discussed ligaments since Andrew Bynum.
Griffin's recovery is projected at 6-to-8 months w/ rehabilitation that will focus on his quad strength to protect and help stabilize knee.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2013
The question being, should Griffin III have been in the game?
ESPN talking heads such as Herm Edwards, Merril Hoge and Jalen Rose all spoke adamantly about this situation, claiming that RG3 should've been on the sidelines.
— JALEN ROSE (@JalenRose) January 9, 2013
Meanwhile, Ron Jaworski countered those arguments and said Griffin should have been playing in the game. Growing up watching Philadelphia sports, when it comes to playing hurt, naturally I think of Allen Iverson. The supposed 6'0" guard's philosophy was always something along the lines of, "If I can walk, I can play." I personally played with a similar mindset in high school as well. Robert Griffin III agrees, too. After the game, he told reporters, "I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I'm the best option for this team and that's why I'm the starter."
Many may question, criticize & think they have all the right answers. But few have been in the line of fire in battle.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 7, 2013
To me, situations that include players dealing with injury should really just be between the player and the coach. And, when it's all said and done, the player should have the right to decide whether he or she can play, with that player taking responsibility for whatever consequences come from playing. Griffin decided to play and now he's taking responsibility for his actions, getting into surgery as soon as possible, with 34.5 weeks until opening day of the 2013 NFL season.
Even as an Eagles fan, I have tremendous respect for Griffin's physical talent as a football player. But, I have even more respect for his actions on game day and his reactions following his injury.
However, I've had great difficulty respecting and understanding Houston Rockets rookie forward Royce White's actions regarding his playing status.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, White suffers from an anxiety disorder that causes him to feel severe amounts of stress in somewhat uncomfortable situations. One of those situations, for White, is flying and it's caused a rift between the former Iowa State Cyclone and the franchise.
Rockets suspend Royce White for refusing to provide services as required by his Uniform Player Contract.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) January 6, 2013
Entering the season, there were dozens of reports how the Rockets and White were working together to create the best possible formula to have their 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft on the court in the least stressful situation possible. Listen to White's comments on trying to be a team player and a member of the Rockets organization back in mid-November.
As you heard, White says he "tries to manage it as best as possible," yet he has not appeared in a single game for Houston this season and it's really due to his irresponsible actions. He himself even said it's not possible to take a bus to every game on the entire 82-game NBA regular season schedule. So, to compensate for his disorder, the team optioned to send White to the NBA's Development League in order to play in a more stress-free environment. But, White refused.
White said in November that he's "willing to do whatever the coach needs and whatever the team needs [him] to do."
The Rockets need him to put on a jersey and help the team, that made his dreams of playing in the NBA come true, fight for a playoff spot this spring. Houston is currently the sixth-seed in the Western Conference and could really benefit from a 6'8", 260 pound forward who can both bang inside and hit jumpers with ease.
Now, I have no understanding of what it feels like to live daily with an anxiety disorder. But, I do know that White traveled frequently during his time within the high school basketball circuit and in college as a player in one of the nation's premiere basketball conferences. Clearly he's traveled before and clearly he's been able to handle and play a grueling schedule.
If the NBA is really Royce White's dream come true, he should be acting a little more graciously towards the Houston Rockets instead of tweeting #BeWell and going on Twitter rants about mental health and being human.
— Royce White (@Highway_30) January 6, 2013
When it comes to dealing with being healthy enough to play -- whether mentally or physically -- players, especially professional athletes should take responsibility for their actions. As grown adults, professional athletes have the right to say, "Hey, coach, I feel well enough to play. I'll take responsibility for any repercussions that follow." However, if you're contractually obligated to try to perform to the best of your abilities, like White, who's technically owed $1.6 million this year, you need to do whatever it takes to get onto the floor or field and help your team win ball games.
White keeps saying he wants to be safe and healthy, but he's not even giving the concept of him playing NBA basketball a chance. He's flat-out being unreasonable.
When it's all said and done, people value professional athletes based off of winning and their respect for the game that gets them paid. Robert Griffin III has shown his understanding of that, whereas Royce White has simply looked like an immature kid in a grown man's world.