Griffin was also feeling the criticism for not taking himself out. He did not appear in the locker room during the two hours it was open to reporters Monday morning and instead made his public statements via Twitter.
“Many may question, criticize & think they have all the right answers. But few have been in the line of fire in battle. … I thank God for perspective and because of that I appreciate the support from everyone. I also appreciate the criticism. … When adversity strikes you respond in one of two ways….You step aside and give in..Or you step up and fight,” Griffin tweeted.
Teammates defended Griffin’s desire to play hurt, saying it’s part of an athlete’s competitive nature.
“It’s a slippery slope, I guess you can say, because you want to help the team,” said receiver Pierre Garcon, who faced a similar dilemma this season while dealing with a painful toe injury. “But you want to help yourself in the long run and your career.
“You want to look out for all sides, but it’s hard to really know exactly if you’re doing the right thing because if you sit out and the team losses, it’s like ‘I could probably have helped.’ If you go out there and don’t help the team, it’s like, ‘I probably should’ve sat out.’ You’ve just got to make a decision and live with it.”
Shanahan’s take on Griffin was also muddled by details that have emerged from the game in which the quarterback originally hurt the knee last month against the Baltimore Ravens.
The coach said at the time he was told by Andrews on the Redskins sideline that Griffin was cleared to return to the game, but Andrews told USA Today over the weekend that he didn’t get a chance to examine the knee during the one play Griffin sat out after the initial injury.
Shanahan explained the apparent discrepancy.
“I don’t sit down with him and say, ‘Hey, did you give him a proper evaluation?’” Shanahan said. “I ask him, ‘Is it OK if he goes back in the game?’ He says yes or no. He said yes.”
Either way, the various versions of what happened cast more intrigue on the protocol NFL teams use to determine whether someone is fit to keep playing. Redskins left guard Kory Lichtensteiger had to leave Sunday’s game in the first quarter because he could no longer play on a sprained left ankle that kept him out of practice all week.
“I went out there,” Lichtensteiger said. “But, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have done it.”
Griffin’s injury and the playoff loss put a damper on the end of one of the best Redskins seasons in two decades. Washington rallied from a 3-6 start to win the NFC East after four straight last-place finishes. Assuming Griffin’s knee will again be fully healthy, the future looks brighter than at any time since the Super Bowl era under coach Joe Gibbs in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“I think people have really learned around here — if you’re down by seven, people aren’t packing it in,” said safety Reed Doughty, wrapping up his seventh season in Washington. “People aren’t getting that ‘Oh, the way things used to be’ kind of feeling.”