More Guts, More Glory. But Hold the Guts, Please.
I rarely talk about sports here, so little in fact that I don’t even have a Category breakdown for it. Regardless, the NFL Playoffs are occurring and everyone cannot stop clamoring about an incident.
Was it a terrible call? Nope. Was it a spectacular display of athletic ability? Kind of. Was it a poor call by a coach? Definitely. Was it a stupid play by a player? Yes.
What occurred on Jan. 6 was nothing out of the normal for a sport as brutal as football is. Robert Griffin III entered the game on an injured leg he had previously hurt a few weeks before the Washington Redskins competed against the Seattle Seahawks.
Washington’s quarterback, Griffin III, has more athletic ability and talent in his right big toe than 80 percent of America, and that is a conservative estimate. For me, saying this, means I firmly believe that this young man could enter any sport, and within an extremely short time frame, become a top competitor within said sport.
Griffin III badminton singles world champion has an interesting ring to it.
Regardless of my future aspirations for this phenomenal athlete, he entered his first NFL playoff game on a bum leg. Some say bum knee, but from the brace that almost ran the length of this entire leg and appeared to be augmented into his body; making him look more of a cyborg than a quarterback; it is uncertain where his injury or injuries in that appendage exist.
So, the stellar athlete enters the field of battle, injured. He appeared to be affective in the first quarter, driving his team to a 14-0 lead and moving the ball with ease against a defense that was known to be just as affective in their own discipline.
Then Griffin III gets hit, while running. Torques his leg. He begins to limp and his effectiveness wears off. He limps more. He tries harder. And the limp gets worse.
Finally, a low snap to Griffin III makes him desperately twist his body in an attempt to stabilize the bumbling ball. But this was the last straw, as he laid motionless, without the ball.
Faced down, in the grass, his own body defeated him.
Now, my favorite part is the commentary afterward. People want to blame the coach. People want to blame the NFL. People want to blame Griffin III. Blame, blame, blame.
A few things to keep in mind, at least in my opinion. Griffin III has more athletic ability than most of the NFL, especially the Redskins backup quarterback. Does that mean removing Griffin III sooner, and allowing the backup to get in to a rhythm with the offense may have been the best choice? May be.
But you look at what Griffin III brings to the table, even injured, and defenses shudder.
And I find it impossible to blame Griffin III for fighting to keep himself in the game. Jay Cutler one time took himself out of a playoff game due to a knee injury that could have potentially became worse, and he was ridiculed, scrutinized and doubted.
We have a culture in this country that perpetuates stupid, macho, male-driven physical feats that often lend those actually participating in those actions shells of their former selves. All the while overweight, out-of-shape and regular Joes watch men who have crafted their into that of Olympic gods only to slowly chip away at their bodies and their souls.
So, I will never accept criticism against a player who leaves his body on the field for too long. He is doing what this country considers admirable, however mistaken it logically is.
And that leaves only one area left to blame. The Coaches.
Let me say that I don’t envy Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan’s position yesterday. In a sport that hangs on to head coaches like I hang on to 6-pack of delicious beer, proper and decisive decisions have to be made to increase one’s career longevity.
Shanahan had to make the best call he saw fit about his team, in respect to Griffin III’s injury. That team has mountains of more opportunities to succeed with Griffin III than any backup quarterback could bring to the table.
The annoying thing about Shanahan’s decision to keep Griffin III playing, was that none of the offensive play calls made by the coaching staff did anything to either mask or assist Griffin III with his injured leg.
But this is where Griffin III’s athleticism is truly genius and magnificently stupid.
He even fooled professionals, whose life it is to asses athletic value and talent, in to believing that his broken body is more than human. Griffin III with one leg is still in better shape than 50 percent of America. The Redskins thought that even with a bum one, Griffin III could still play ball the same exact he could with two good legs.
So, the coaching staff, led by Shanahan, takes most of the blame. However, our culture needs to chill on the “more guts, more glory” mentality.
Our collective consciousness about “victory at all costs” often bleeds in to sports, as this is the safest yet most brutal way to display this cultural necessity. Only a few fight our wars, but everyone can play football!
We do this, and then get pissed that our team didn’t win, when our quarterback wishes the save some years on his legs. All the while fans are calling him a “pussy” and columnists are saying the coach “has no balls” for forcing his quarterback to play.
Griffin III’s display of courageous athletic ability is his cumulative response of wishing to win (because that is the only way you are worth anything), pleasing his coach’s (because that is the only way you are worth anything) and pleasing Redskins and sports fans (because that is the only way you are worth anything).
We ask for guts and glory, and then get pissed when the only thing left is guts.