Robert Griffin III finds himself in similar situation as Riley Nelson and BYU football
Richard Lipski, Associated Press
Robert Griffin III limped across the field in his first NFL postseason game.
A quick four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulson gave the Redskins a two-touchdown lead and a re-injured quarterback late in the first quarter.
Washington coach Mike Shanahan listened to his quarterback's request and left Griffin in the game. Then, the fourth quarter delivered an undeniable blow to the starting quarterback that could no longer be ignored.
Many critics questioned Shanahan's decision to continue to play Griffin despite his ongoing injury, however the coach stood by his choice.
"He said, 'Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there,'" Shanahan said. "I couldn't disagree with him."
Nearly one month prior to this, the Redskin's star rookie quarterback first injured his right knee during a game against the Baltimore Ravens. He sat out one week and returned to his starting role verses Philadelphia.
A coach's commitment to his players, especially his quarterback, can be a powerful force and establish remarkable team cohesiveness.
However at times, it can be detrimental and devastating to both team and player.
BYU football struggled through a strikingly similar situation this past season that caused a controversy among fans and critics.
Many believed Riley Nelson was too injured to remain as starting quarterback for the Cougars, but coach Bronco Mendenhall refused to sit Nelson several times throughout the season.
Nelson battled through back problems and insisted on playing in games where his ability was clearly affected by the pain in his back.
Contests like Boise State, are clear red-flags for times when BYU might have been better off playing either of their capable backups James Lark or Taysom Hill.
In the few opportunities that Lark or Hill were given, they performed. But, Hall suffered a season-ending injury in the closing minutes of the Utah State game, and Mendenhall consistently opted for an injured Nelson over a healthy Lark, excepting the last two games of the season.
Boise State stands out as a game where the offense struggled until Hill replaced Nelson. The backup led BYU to a late comeback drive that barely fell short on an incomplete 2-point conversion.
Following the game, Mendenhall defended his decision to start Nelson, and this statement was reiterated many times throughout the remainder of the season.
"Riley is our quarterback," Mendenhall said according to Fox Sports. "I want him to be healthy and I want him to be able to look me in the eye and tell me 'Coach I am absolutely ready.' I don't have any different feelings about him than I did going into this game."
Similarly, Shanahan refused to take Griffin out of the game until his knee buckled and he clearly could not play anymore.
According to a USA today report, Washington fans felt Griffin was unable to plant and throw due to his injury.
ESPN critics and analysts continue to argue the effects of leaving Griffin in the game. Some say Shanahan was compromising his team's chances of winning and his quarterback's health. While others argue that until the last blow occurred in the fourth quarter, there was no reason to doubt Griffin.
In both situations, the coaches became accustomed to their starting quarterbacks and were criticized for not making adjustments despite debilitating injuries.
BYU and Redskins fans will never know if having a different quarterback would have made a difference in the outcome, but they certainly aren't happy with they one they have.
Hindsight is indeed 20-20.
Whitney O'Bannon is currently a new media sports intern for the Deseret News.
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