And that can make medical decisions tougher.
The combination of professional athletes and the playoffs places NFL team doctors under greater scrutiny at this time of year. Recently, the right knee injury suffered by Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III raised concerns about sideline medical decisions.
Playing on an already unstable leg, Griffin suffered a severe right knee injury during a postseason game earlier this month against Seattle. He required major surgery to repair a torn lateral collateral ligament and to redo a 2009 anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
In the wake of the injury, there were questions about how Washington coach Mike Shanahan handled Griffin — whether he was right to let the obviously injured rookie return to the game. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the Griffin injury may change the way non-head injuries are evaluated on the sideline. Souryal called sideline decisions “the most of difficult of all.”
“There’s mud, there’s sweat, there’s a lot of different pressures,” said Souryal. “It’s darn near impossible to get a good examination on the sideline. The conditions are less than optimal.”
While the Griffin situation could not be more different from the Gronkowski reinjury, they illustrate how every case is unique.
“It comes down to knowing your athletes and knowing your players,” said Schickendantz. “Most of us spend an awful lot of time with our players and get to know them as individuals. They have their own personalities and their own toughness and pain tolerances.
“It’s all very individualized. It is difficult [to make decisions about when players should return]. These guys put themselves through an awful lot, put themselves at a certain level of risk every time that they step on the field.”
And sometimes that means bad luck leads to a bad break.
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.