The collision flipped him over, from an attempted slide on his backside to a face-down sprawl on the turf. His chin was bloodied, his helmet was rattled, and his mind was clouded. The Washington Redskins' medical staff sat him down and asked him basic concussion-test questions, Robert Griffin III couldn't tell them what quarter it was or what the score was.
The crushing blow, a shoulder-to-helmet slobber-knocker delivered by Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in the third quarter of the Redskins 24-17 loss, left Griffin with a "mild" concussion, according to Coach Mike Shanahan. How on earth can a concussion be labeled as "mild". A chicken wing from Popeye's can be considered "mild." A 65-degree day in the District can be labeled as "mild." Folks, listen to me, when your brain is negatively impacted by a violent blow, it should not be considered mild. "Mild" concussion is an oxymoron if there ever was one.
Once Griffin was led off the field slowly and eventually sent home, football fans from across the country asked the same question: "Is RGIII okay?" The reason they were asking is because in that cross-your-fingers moment which followed that brutal collision, they realized this naked truth: Without RGIII It's Over.
For the Washington Redskins, Griffin represents hope, optimism, and all the positive things the organization can be. As long as he is healthy and playing, that hope and sense of optimism can exist. Without Griffin on the field, that hope will last about as long as it takes Usain Bolt to run 100 meters. Simply put, Griffin represents the difference between legitimacy and irrelevance as an NFL franchise.
The Redskins' coaching staff has already modified much of the offense because of Griffin's maturity, arm strength, and speed. He took a beat down in a Week three loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Since then, the coaching staff has limited his exposure by design. Officially, Griffin only had one run for seven yards against Atlanta. But unless they want to pull Griffin from games, which isn't a viable option unless you want to insight a fan riot at FedEx Field, the coaching staff can't prevent him from taking chances during the game.
Griffin has already become essential to the team's success. As soon as he took the hit, the season hung in the balance, all depending on the health of a 22-year-old won the Heisman Trophy earlier this year. Until Griffin comes back healthy, Redskins fans will be walking on eggshells.
Immediately after the injury, a hush came over the stadium crowd and in came back-up quarterback Kirk Cousins. No knock on Cousins, but he pales in comparison to RGIII. It would be the virtual equivalent of having Jordin Sparks substitute for Patti Labelle. If Cousins starts against Minnesota on Sunday, he will be the Redskins' rookie quarterback, but he won't be that Redskins' rookie quarterback.
What Sunday's hit made crystal clear is the danger that exists whenever Griffin decides to take off down field. He has to be healthy and play, otherwise, it's over.
If RGIII goes down, the master plan to rebuild this franchise comes to a screeching halt. Not only will his health be on the line, but the team's chance for a winning season and a playoff berth will be at risk. The future viability of this franchise rests in the hands of Griffin.
So, come on RGIII, members of Redskins Nation need you to pull it together and keep it together. Without you, my brother, it's over.