As news conferences go, the one the Miami Dolphins held Wednesday to culminate a successful season was not awful by the standard of Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland once upon a time openly hating each other in front of the media or Laremy Tunsil canceling because he suddenly got an acute case of food poisoning.
Yes, this one raised concerns. And eyebrows.
This presser was troubling if things don’t turn out just right for the Miami Dolphins.
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The reason for all this is because in a setting meant to provide answers, the Dolphins effectively created a significant question during the time Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier talked to reporters.
The question was a simple one: Does Ryan Tannehill need knee surgery this offseason?
I figured the answer would be a simple and quick, “Nope.”
But that’s because I’m an out-of-the-loop outsider who finished a few credits short of my medical degree. The Dolphins, working with the latest information and having top doctors both inside and outside the organization examining Tannehill’s knee, couldn’t be quite so certain.
So they equivocated.
“We’re still going through that process right now with the trainers with what our next step is, where his health is, how strong is his knee,” Gase said. “We’re still going through that. We’re still collecting information. Doctors are still giving us what possibly could be down the road. So it’s hard for us to really pinpoint anything as of this moment right now.”
I heard this answer and tried to figure out if that meant yes, he needs surgery, or no, he doesn’t. And it was neither. So I pressed because the Dolphins didn’t put Tannehill on injured reserve after he sustained a partially torn ACL and MCL in his left knee in early December.
The doctors at that time gave Gase and others assurances surgery likely was not necessary. And that’s the reason Gase said this on Dec. 12, when asked about the prospect of Tannehill needing surgery:
“Unless something changes, it doesn’t look like that’s what is going to be happening,” the coach said at the time.
On Wednesday, the answer was nowhere near so clear.
“We still don’t have all the exacts,” Gase said. “We’re working through that right now. Until we’re told by our doctors and our medical staff, ‘This is where we’re at,’ specifically, he’s still going through a rehab stage right now and doing what he can do with the trainers.
“Our doctors are evaluating it. I’ve said it before. I don’t have the information to tell you guys what’s going on with where we exactly are at and what happens moving forward, so right now it’s on our medical staff to give us the information we need going forward.”
You’re darn tootin’ it’s on the medical staff. Doctors first told the team Tannehill likely tore his ACL and would be out for the year. Then it was only a partial tear, and he could eventually practice. And now, after a month, we don’t know for sure, so there’s ambiguity?
Did something change? Did Tannehill suffer a setback in rehab? Did the doctors get it wrong?
All these unknowns suddenly popped up during the presser. And, of course, the moment the Dolphins’ hazy message was relayed via the dreaded Internet (can’t wait until that fad passes), fans and media outlets were freaking out.
Dolphins decline to say Tannehill doesn’t need surgery!
Tannehill may need surgery!
Aliens land on Tannehill’s knee!
The thing, is I’d like to tell you this is all fake news and everything will be absolutely fine. But I cannot. Because even privately, the Dolphins do not feel comfortable saying Tannehill definitely won’t need surgery.
He probably won’t.
But no one is willing to step out on that limb because there is the chance the quarterback might indeed need a procedure, and no one wants to look bad in having said otherwise. No one is risking their reputation on this.
So where does this all leave us?
Well, Dolphins fans should hope the initial medical opinions are right and Tannehill doesn’t need surgery. Because if he does have surgery, that will be a setback.
Surgery, especially if we’re talking ACL reconstruction, means the quarterback will miss the entire offseason and quite possibly much of training camp. Reconstruction would be terrible news trumped only by the fact it feels delayed because it could have happened a month earlier.
Any other kind of surgical procedure will be less frightening but still make whatever progress Tannehill intended to make as a player this offseason unlikely.
The only good course that can come of this is if Tannehill progresses so far and so adeptly as to not need surgery. Unfortunately, we will have to wait another day for that news.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter @ArmandoSalguero