Robert Griffin III and Washington have gotten off to a rough 0-3 start. The defense has give up the most yards the first three weeks of the season than any team in NFL history. What the media, fans, and pundits want to focus on are the struggles of RG3. The fact that he is not playing up to the standard he established in his rookie season should not be surprising. Coming off a major knee injury it will take time for him to physically and mentally return to that level. If any of us in our respective professions were not able to work for several months regardless of the circumstances it would take time to get reacquainted. His offseason was focused on rehabilitation before he could begin preparing to play football. It is not like riding a bicycle. RG3 did not help himself the entire offseason with the way he handled discussing his injury and rehabilitation. He did not give himself room to go through that process with his comments and attention drawn to it.
What Griffin needs to learn is to have a filter and say no sometimes! From the initial time of his injury there was too much finger pointing regards to who was at fault for his injury. He stated after the game that he was not going to pull himself out. Having previous history with tearing an ACL in college he knew how vulnerable he was and ultimately needed to take responsibility for leaving himself in the playoff game vs. Seattle. The coaching and medical staff should have protected him from himself especially after seeing him limp to the sideline on a scramble in the first half. The entire offseason Adidas had an ad campaign about his recovery, “All In For Week 1.”, Sports Illustrated and GQ magazine covers. He had cameras following him for a documentary. The entire franchise was inundated with questions about his recovery and process and not about the entire team. Did Griffin do all these things for selfish reasons? Probably not, he was working hard to get healthy to help his team win. He is a charismatic figure and was voted as a team captain as a rookie. All of this doesn’t mean that there is not something to learn from this process.
Griffin needs to be himself, but keep in mind that is interaction with the media, use of social media, and any comments will impact himself and the team. Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon have already made comments about how everyone around Redskins Park is used to fielding questions about Griffin. What a NFL QB has to be is Presidential and CEOish. Two of his 2012 draft counterparts Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck get that. We never hear anything from them that causes a distraction to the team. They do interviews and have commercials, but conduct their business in a way that they are not the hot button topic all the time for their franchise. Other quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Eli and Peyton Manning, and Matt Ryan get that as well. Former Washington CB Fred Smoot recently stated on the 106.7 FM , “Sometimes RGIII can be a brat, alright? Because I’m watching these other quarterbacks and I’m watching how they compose themselves and the things they do. With Luck and Wilson, and it’s a different vibe. Sometimes I’m starting to think that RGIII is really really buying into the attention. But I tell anybody this. The NFL will humble you. And I think he’s going through that humbling process right now as we speak.”
Calling him a brat is probably extreme. The observation of how he handles himself should not be lost. Griffin has the potential to be a transcendent player in the NFL. He is smart, hard worker, and has all the tangible skills. Hopefully the process of handling his injury and struggles early in the season of the team will be a learning experience of the intangibles that will take him to greater levels. As a fan, I am rooting for him. Growing in the Washington, DC area we have not had an athlete to gain such national attention outside of Michael Jordan joining the Wizards past his prime. Griffin broke records in jersey sales in 2012 and was the buzz of the league. It is easy for anyone especially at his age to get caught up in the hype and expectations.
This season has the potential to be a long one for Washington. Outside of the Raiders in the coming week the remaining 12 games are against teams at this point have very realistic playoff expectations. Several have legitimate Super Bowl expectations such as the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. With a potential single digit win season ahead and coach that will be in the final year of his contract in 2014 in Mike Shanahan, Griffin being the face of the franchise needs to be prepared for what is to come and handle his business in a way to be the steady force with many questions looming about the franchise’s future and his performance.