We’ve written quite a bit about Robert Griffin III today, mostly because through both the quote bomb he dropped this morning and some fun weekend catchup, there’s been a lot to write. But now as his rehab continues and as we keep getting filled with glorious hope that one of the premier fantasy quarterbacks will be back and healthy and just fine thanks, we’ve also been reminded of some interesting numbers regarding ACL recoveries.
And by “interesting”, I mean utterly soul crushing.
Griffin underwent total reconstructive surgery on his knee back in early January to repair completely torn ACL and LCL ligaments. He’s moving along well after he generally looked like a real quarterback during a brief appearance on a field last week, though he still has many hurdles remaining, like cutting and facing contact.
But despite the recent successes of Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles in their recoveries, Newsday’s Tom Rock talked to famous/infamous Dr. James Andrews, who expressed caution. Rock also cited some fancy numbers from smart guys, which is where the real terror lies here.
This ain’t pretty.
“They’re all different,” Andrews said. “There’s still a big spectrum in how they heal and how they come back . . . It’s hard to predict recovery from an ACL surgery, and to say that we’re getting them back quicker than we used to would be false information from my standpoint.”
Many don’t come back at all. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that only 63 percent of NFL athletes who had an ACL reconstruction returned to play another game. Roughly two out of three. And two years after ACL surgery, Andrews said, about 55 percent of NFL players are no longer playing in the league. For the majority, an ACL still is pretty synonymous with the end of a career.
Immediately when Griffin suffered his injury, we all wondered if he’ll have to change his game, and how much. But for Griffin to be Griffin, any significant alteration leads to a far less effective quarterback.
Over time — and maybe in the very near future — history may not leave him much of a choice. In addition to this latest surgery, Griffin also tore his ACL in 2009.
Andrews told Rock there are indeed “superhuman” athletes who can recover from ACL surgery and function at a high level, which certainly applies to Peterson after he came just nine yards short of setting the all-time single-season rushing yards record following his surgery and recovery.
This fall, we’ll find out if Griffin also comes from planet Krypton.