We don’t know how long it will take Robert Griffin III to recover from whatever injuries he might have to his right knee. But we do know that a torn ACL suffered in January does not necessarily to keep a quarterback out of action the next season.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers tore the ACL in his right knee in a divisional round playoff game against the Colts following the 2007 season. He gave way to backup Billy Volek for the remainder of that game and San Diego won. Rivers had arthroscopic surgery to clean out the knee after the game and he played the entire AFC Championship game against the Patriots the following week without an ACL in his right knee. The Chargers lost, making it a moot point that Rivers probably could not have played in the Super Bowl if the Chargers had won.
He had reconstructive surgery soon after the game. Exactly 100 days later he was on the practice field for minicamp. Rivers started all 16 games for the Chargers in 2008, passing for over 4,000 yards and leading the league in touchdown passes (34), yards per pass attempt (8.4), and passer rating (105.5).
There certainly are some differences between the cases Rivers and RG3 with the most important being that Griffin previously tore the same ACL that is injured now and it was the first major injury to the knee for Rivers. Rivers’ comeback season was his fifth in the NFL and his third as a starter. If Griffin misses a lot of offseason prep time that could hurt his 2013 performance more than any time the more experienced Rivers may have missed. Also, Griffin may have suffered more damage to other ligaments than did Rivers. All of these factors could have an effect on the timing and quality of Griffin’s 2013 comeback.
Most importantly, injuries are different and athletes recover from them at different rates. Griffin could have an injury identical to Rivers’ and it could take him longer to recover. Or it might not take him as long, although that would be surprising since Rivers’ recovery was quick, almost to the point of being Adrian Peterson miraculous.
So this is not to say that if RG3 does have a torn ACL we should be able to count on him not only being ready to play when the NFL season starts in about eight months but ready to play at a high level. His recovery could well take longer than that of Rivers. But a January ACL tear does not automatically doom a quarterback to missing time in September or having a subpar season.