When Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III injured his knee on a gruesome collision in the fourth quarter of a 31-28 victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 9, he limped off the field for one play, then hobbled back into the huddle as fans and teammates held their breath.
Griffin, clearly injured and in pain, remained in the game for four plays before removing himself.
The following day, when the team revealed Griffin had suffered a sprained lateral collateral ligament, coach Mike Shanahan was asked why he had risked the health of his franchise quarterback by putting him back into the game.
Shanahan said he let Griffin return with the blessing of James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon, who was on the sideline.
Andrews, however, told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday that he never cleared Griffin to go back into the game, because he never even examined him.
"He didn't even let us look at him," Andrews said. "He came off the field, walked through the sidelines, circled back through the players, and took off back to the field. It wasn't our opinion.
"We didn't even get to touch him or talk to him. Scared the hell out of me."
Yet when asked by reporters, Shanahan described a conversation with Andrews this way:
"He's on the sidelines with Dr. Andrews. He had a chance to look at him and he said he could go back in," Shanahan said Dec. 10. "(I said) 'Hey, Dr. Andrews, can Robert go back in?'
'Yeah, he can go back in.'
'Robert, go back in.'
"That was it," Shanahan said.
Only that's not the way it happened, Andrews said. What's more, Andrews remains worried about Griffin's health as the Redskins play the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC wild card game at FedEx Field today.
"I'm the one that shut him down that day, finally," Andrews said. "I've been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has. He's doing a lot better this week, but he's still recovering and I'm holding my breath because of it.
"He passed all the tests and all the functional things we do, but it's been a trying moment for me, to be honest with you."
After Griffin left the game against the Ravens, backup Kirk Cousins led the Redskins to victory, then started the following week's game - a victory against the Cleveland Browns - when Griffin was inactive.
The risky behavior and apparent cover-up regarding Griffin's knee injury is even more curious when Andrews described the team's responsibility toward the rookie quarterback - "to make sure he's OK for the next 15 years," Andrews said. "That's what you have to watch out for for players, because they don't know."
Andrews added: "He's a competitor. He didn't want to let his team down."
Andrews made the comments while promoting his book, Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, for Athletes, Parents, and Coaches - Based on My Life in Sports Medicine.
Despite Griffin's insistence otherwise, today he will continue to wear the knee brace he's worn for the past several weeks, Andrews said. The brace has limited Griffin's speed and agility since his return in Week 16.
Shanahan and the team were criticized and fined earlier this season for the handling of another Griffin injury. The team described Griffin III as being "shaken up" immediately after he suffered a concussion in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL fined the Redskins $20,000 for not properly informing the media of the injury.