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Play or Sit: the coaches' quandary

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Play or Sit: the coaches' quandary

NEW YORK (AP) At some point, an injured player, even a star like Robert Griffin III, is too hampered to help a team. Deciding when enough is enough is the problem.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan became the target of widespread criticism after Griffin reinjured his right knee in Sunday's 24-14 wild-card loss to Seattle. The questions have ranged from whether Shanahan made his sensational rookie's health his No. 1 priority to whether the protocol for dealing with injuries was followed.

Coaches who have been in such tricky situations say the solutions aren't complicated.

``You have to rely on the doctors, the health always has to come first,'' said Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy. ``If the doctor says he can go or he can't go, you don't argue, there's not even a discussion.

``If the doctors say, `Here are the limitations, he can go,' then you have to judge for yourself. How is he mentally? How limited is he physically?''

Dungy recalls many times when players wanted to go and he had to say no. While coaching the Buccaneers, Dungy told Warren Sapp he wouldn't be suiting up for a national TV game against Miami because Sapp had cracked a bone in his hand.

Sapp wanted to wear a splint, but team doctors said it was too soon for him to play.

``Warren was upset,'' Dungy said.

``If you ask the player, it means nothing. It's rare a player will tell you he can't do this or this or that.''

Shanahan said Monday that Griffin will see renowned orthopedist James Andrews for more examinations on the knee, leaving open the possibility the quarterback will be sidelined for a lengthy period.

Shanahan added he thought he made the ``right decisions'' and it would be ``crazy'' to think he would purposely sacrifice Griffin's career to win a game.

But Shanahan admitted he did not talk to team doctors initially after Griffin was hurt in the first quarter.

``I went up to Robert. I said, `You OK?''' Shanahan said. ``And he said, `I'm fine.'''

Not exactly the way some coaches would have handled it.

``You never put a player in harm's way,'' said Herm Edwards, who defended how Shanahan handled the situation during his ESPN show.

``It starts with the medical staff on the sideline. They advise you if a player is able to go back in. If they say, `Yea,' you put him back in. If he can play, you keep him on the field.''

Players don't ever want to come out, and Dungy says some will even try to hide medical problems. Or at least minimize them.

San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis suffered a concussion on Dec. 23 at Seattle and returned to play in the season finale against Arizona. He admits to being a little ``woozy'' during his limited reps, but insists sitting should not have been the first option.

``You trust the player. A player knows his body better than anyone,'' Davis said. ``If he's feeling a certain way, then I don't think you can go against that. He knows he can play.''

But he could be placing himself in greater jeopardy, whether in the short term or for his entire career. For every Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles who makes a stunningly quick recovery, there are dozens of players who are never the same.

Some don't even get back in uniform again.

Or they come back too quickly, as Griffin's teammate, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, did in 2010.

Hall missed practice leading up to a game against the Colts. Usually, Shanahan bars players from suiting up when that happens, but Hall was allowed to play.

``I gave up a couple of touchdown passes,'' Hall said. ``And Mike was just like, `That's my fault, you shouldn't have been out there. I respect you wanted to be out there, but I could tell you just couldn't go.'

``You always want to be out there. It's nothing against the guys behind you, but just that competitiveness in you. You want to compete, you want to be a part of it, especially this run we've had.

``Man, it would have been hard for that guy (RG3) to say, `Nah, coach I can't go' or `pull me.' Everything was going so special, he wanted to be a part of it.''

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AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Joseph White contributed to this report.

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Devante Smith-Pelly's new hockey pup is already a champion by name

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Devante Smith-Pelly's new hockey pup is already a champion by name

Stanley Cup champion and 2018 Washington Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly has gotten a dog.

Smith-Pelly named the husky-mix puppy Stanley, of course. Because what’s more valuable in life than championships and puppies?

Stanley is pictured above, courtesy of DSP’s mom.

Smith-Pelly posted the same picture on his Instagram story earlier in the week.

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Best places within driving distance to get out of Washington, D.C. on July 4th

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Best places within driving distance to get out of Washington, D.C. on July 4th

America’s birthday is just around the corner. The Fourth of July is arguably the most anticipated event of the summer and with most having the day off to celebrate, you’ll need a place to do so.

The most obvious choice would be to spend July 4th on the National Mall, but with the anticipation of record-breaking heat, tourists and general overcrowding, Washington, D.C. may not be the most ideal location to spend the holiday.

Here are the best places to get out of Washington, D.C. on July 4th within driving distance:

The Winery at Bull Run: Manassas, Virginia

If you’re looking to spend your Fourth of July at a winery, this is the place for you. The Winery at Bull Run is adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park, the site of the Battle of Bull Run, one of the major battles of the Civil War. It’s the perfect place to not only enjoy your July 4th, yet be surrounded by some American history as well.

Leesburg, Virginia

Another historic location to spend your Fourth of July is in Leesburg, Virginia. Downtown Leesburg has an old, historic charm to it with shops, restaurants, microbreweries and wine kitchens. Beginning at 10 a.m, there will be an Independence Day parade. Venture outside of the historic downtown and find some of Virginia’s finest breweries and wineries. At night, head to Ida Lee Recreation Center for a concert and some of the best fireworks in Virginia.

Herndon, Virginia

There’s nothing like the Fourth of July, and another historic Virginia town has one of the best events for the holiday. Herndon, Virginia located in Fairfax County, is hosting their annual July 4th event featuring games, live music and other family-friendly activities before their fireworks show in the evening.

Lake Anna, Virginia

Spend your Fourth of July at the Lake this year at one of the most popular destinations in Virginia, Lake Anna. Located only 72 miles south of Washington D.C., Lake Anna has a bunch of activities for everyone including watersports and hiking. Although fireworks aren’t scheduled on the 4th, stay through the weekend to watch the free fireworks show on Saturday, July 6.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Another patriotic destination to spend the Fourth of July is in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville has a plethora of things to do for the 4th including, parades, fireworks and other celebrations across the city.