Rand: Is rushing an injured athlete back to action healthy? Or wise?

  • Updated: October 12, 2012 - 7:01 AM

Is it possible to separate a star athlete's health questions off the field to the performance on it? Ask Josh Hamilton and Robert Griffin III.

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) walks off the field after being sacked and injured against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, Sunday, October 7, 2012. Atlanta defeated Washington 24-17.

Photo: Mark Gail, Mct - Mct

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The routine of life offers no guarantees or protections. Even crossing the street comes with inherent risks, which we (mostly) choose to accept in the name of progress and, well, living life. Professional sports ramp up these choices, with the trend being this: Even in 2012, with so much more known about various health risks, performance is paramount over all. Consider these two recent examples:

• Robert Griffin III is one of the most promising young players to come into the NFL in the past handful of seasons. He is engaging, well-spoken and charismatic. More importantly, he has certain skills that make it very difficult for opposing defenses to stop him. His arm and legs won him a Heisman Trophy last season at Baylor. They are giving hope to a desperate Washington fan base this year.

However: Griffin suffered a concussion last November with Baylor. He had another one last week, which knocked him out of a game against the Falcons. A few days later, he was cleared to come back to practice in preparation for Sunday's game against the Vikings. Coach Mike Shanahan isn't saying yet whether Griffin will play. But the expectation from teammates is that he will.

"I would be surprised if he didn't play," linebacker Chris Wilson was quoted as saying in USA Today. "He's reacting to everything well, just being himself. He has to take a test every day just to get cleared for practice. So as long as he's sharp, he should be ready to go."

Two concussions in less than a calendar year? Maybe RG3 should sit this one out (and we're not just saying that for the benefit of the Vikings).

• Then there is the case of Josh Hamilton. The Rangers slugger quit chewing tobacco in the middle of the season, which coincided with a batting slump. Rangers President Nolan Ryan said this week that he didn't really care for his star's midseason decision -- no matter what it does for cancer prevention.

"You would've liked to have thought that if he was going to do that, that he would've done it in the offseason or waited until this offseason to do it," Ryan told a Dallas radio station this week, linking the decision to Hamilton's second-half slump.

So to recap: If you get two concussions, expect to play. And if you want to improve your health, don't let it interfere with the pursuit of a pennant.


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