NFL: Washington’s Dismal Track Record Treating Injuries is Embarrassing

When Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden declared an open three-way competition for quarterback, Colt McCoy was the odds-on favorite. Instead, McCoy missed the preseason entirely. Complications from last year’s week 13 injury roared back just in time for the 2019-20 season.

Injuries are an unfortunate part of professional sports. The devil is in the details: McCoy suffered a non-catastrophic fracture. His prognosis for a smooth recovery was high. Somehow, a top candidate for starting QB is stuck on the sidelines with an old injury. McCoy isn’t alone. The struggling Redskins are quickly becoming notorious for mishandling injured players.

How a clean bone fracture became a months-long ordeal

The three-way competition between McCoy, Case Keenum, and dark horse candidate Dwayne Haskins ended with a whimper. The Skins announced Keenum as the starter because they had no other viable choice.

McCoy’s injury was the good kind, as far as a broken leg can ever be. Unfortunately, Washington looked their gift horse in the mouth and pushed McCoy to return to the field against all medical advice. To the shock of no one outside of the Redskins organization, this aggravated his injury. McCoy had two more surgeries to address new complications in the offseason.

This irresponsible recovery plan followed QB Alex Smith’s horrific leg injury. Most organizations would treat yet another injury at the same position with great care. Instead, McCoy has no timetable for a return a full season later.

A pattern of poor recoveries

Recovery issues go well beyond leg injuries at QB. Playing for the Redskins correlates with struggling to heal. Running back Darius Guice appeared at training camp but hasn’t been cleared to play. Perhaps any on-field work at all was a bad decision. His torn ACL required three surgeries, in part due to recurring infections.

Left tackle Trent Williams suffered a health situation off the field. The Redskins’ medical staff examined a growth on his head and apparently misdiagnosed it. Back in 2017, training staff convinced Williams to avoid a necessary knee surgery until after playoff contention. These two situations led Williams to hold out in protest of the poor medical and training practices with the team.

Williams insists he won’t return to Washington. Team president Bruce Allen recently said he “thinks Trent will play football,” but offered no specifics on the reasons for the holdout. Whether Allen addresses Williams’ demands regarding medical issues remains to be seen. In addition to Smith and McCoy, these cases show a pattern of mishandling injuries. And the problems don’t stop with current Redskins players.

The Redskins treat player health with suspicion

Redskins draft pick and current Broncos safety Su’a Cravens suffers from post-concussion syndrome to this day. A 2016 concussion was given on-field treatment and otherwise ignored. In 2017, Cravens informed the Redskins he suffered ongoing health issues from that concussion. Redskins medical staff ignored his reported symptoms. This includes losing his ability to track moving objects with his eyes properly. Now he wears glasses to boost his ability to focus.

Cravens opened up in the press over his mistreatment. The team retaliated by benching him and issuing a particularly haughty statement on the matter. This move left him without medical insurance and ongoing payments until he joined the Broncos.

Cravens filed a dispute against the Redskins, which is ongoing. He vociferously supports fellow Redskins medical team critic Trent Williams. These promising players don’t just want to get paid to play. They demand safer conditions and point specifically to the Redskins organization as the source of the problem.