WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Even the White House couldn't resist weighing in on the nationwide debate over whether Washington Redskins star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III should have been kept in Sunday's NFL playoff game in which he went down with a gruesome knee injury.
Washington coach Mike Shanahan has come under fire for leaving the ailing Griffin - widely known as RG-3 - in the 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and possibly putting the young player's career at risk.
Since watching Griffin limp his way into the final minutes of the fourth quarter before crumpling in a heap on a botched play, almost everyone has expressed an opinion - from television football commentators to sports columnists to ordinary fans at the office water coolers.
And on Wednesday it came up at the White House daily briefing, taking the focus momentarily away from gun control and fiscal showdowns.
"It was painful to watch," Jay Carney, President Barack Obama's press secretary, said when asked whether Griffin should have stayed in the game. "I'm not a football coach but it sure seemed like, as remarkable a player as he is, he wasn't in a position to continue playing."
He then added, sheepishly, "I just got myself in trouble."
Carney, however, could not impart any opinion from Obama, an avid sports fan who also regularly plays basketball and golf.
"The president, like so many sports fans, followed with interest the remarkable season that RG-3 had. I have not had a discussion with him since that game about its terrible outcome."
Griffin underwent surgery in Florida on Wednesday and his orthopedist said he had repaired one ligament in the quarterback's right knee and reconstructed another for a second time, the Washington Post reported, citing a team statement.
The surgeon was quoted saying "it is everybody's hope and belief" that Griffin - the Redskins' top draft choice who led the team to its first division title since 1999 - "will be ready for the 2013 season."
Shanahan has defended his decision to keep Griffin in the game until he finally had to be helped off the field. "Robert is our franchise quarterback. I am not going to take a chance on his career to win a game," he told a news conference on Monday. (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Jim Loney)