The Washington Redskins’ Preseason Psychological Assessment
By Ronald Guy
Hello, Washington Redskins. Have a seat on the couch. Can I call you Washington? Great. Please continue to call me Dr. Quill and keep the co-pays coming. Let’s see, where were we?
The draft went reasonably well. Help arrived in the secondary (David Amerson and Phillip Thomas) and a few intriguing prospects (Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed) were brought into the fold.
Free agency was okay considering your lack of cap space (cheating bastard). It must have been like being in Las Vegas with a couple of bucks in your pocket, no credit card and nothing to hawk to the Harrison boys or Chumlee. Still, you managed to re-sign your sleepy, oft-injured, occasionally suspended but oh-so-talented tight end (Fred Davis). Of course, inking Davis could end up being like a Vegas wedding: a good idea at 3:00 am, huge mistake by noon. We’ve all been there. Not literally, of course. I meant that figuratively. In general, we all make mistakes, right? Ah, never mind.
The roster remained uncharacteristically stable: a hallmark of good NFL teams.
Whoops, what’s this? Your troublesome LT Trent Williams ended his career year with a brow-furrowing, early morning barroom scuffle while visiting the 50th state for the Pro Bowl. But you skillfully swept the incident under the PR rug. Well done. Nothing good happens after midnight, huh? I hope that statement was made at the NFL’s Rookie Symposium … repeatedly. Perhaps it’ll be the next tattoo fad for young athletes. A franchise and a sports writer can hope, right?
The NFC East appears wide open. If anyone has identified a clear favorite or also-ran, they’re not being objective.
The owner hasn’t offended anyone lately. Well, except for Native Americans (and anyone capable of thinking beyond their self-interests) when he told USA Today that “We will NEVER change the name of the team.”
The grass is greener and presumably affixed to the dirt at FedEx Field (bonus!).
Rex Grossman was re-signed. Ha, ha, haaaa. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.
The best pass rusher on your team (Brian Orakpo) claims his twice surgically repaired pectoral muscle is fully healed (we’ll see). He is practically bionic at this point. Or superhuman like …
Oh, yeah … him. Robert Griffin III has certainly kept you in the news, hasn’t he? You like that, don’t you? You probably shouldn’t (think N.Y. Jets and Hard Knocks). Anyway, the latest surgical wounds on your franchise quarterback’s knee have healed. After a few awkward moments, he has apparently kissed and made up with your head coach, the team doctor, his ego and your groundskeeper for contributing to … what did we agree to call it? “The accident.” Yeah, that’s it.
RGIII’s rehab was first reported as being “ahead of schedule,” and he was later declared as “superhuman” — something that obviously piqued the interest of Stan Lee and the director of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, your quarterback validated the laudatory statements, hushed the naysayers and challenged the prevailing gloom in his professional hometown by earning medical clearance to practice with the team at the start of training camp. He even squeezed in time to get married and jet off on a honeymoon. Who is this guy? When is he going to realize that he’s a star athlete in Washington D.C. and allow his chi to be enveloped by the town’s pessimism? Whoops, bad therapist.
That’s a lot of awfully good news, Washington; so much so that you are questioning why you need to pay handsomely to occupy my couch. Here’s where I earn my keep (or perpetuate my perceived utility). While you are undeniably better than where you were say, in January, your manic, training camp state indicates a disconnection from reality. Awash in all the offseason feel-good, you’ve missed a latent, potentially chemistry-fouling consequence of “the accident.” You assumed the damage from the unspeakable end to last season was confined within RGIII’s shredded knee. And since that’s now seemingly all better, disaster was averted and the party can resume.
Simple. Tidy. Desirable.
Your comfy conclusion is also an oversimplification of “the accident” that was anything but a confluence of unforeseen circumstances. The physical damage has been repaired, and the superhuman is braced up and running around as if nothing happened. But the psychological scar will linger, and it could be contagious.
Here’s my point, Washington: Is the quarterback as confident in the coach as he is in his rebuilt appendage? Does he look at Mike Shanahan with unequivocal confidence (like he did this time last year), or is he skeptical about whether the $7 million per year coach cares about the quality of his life at age 40, 35 or even 30? If I were RGIII, I’d view Shanahan in the same way a husband views his wife after catching her lip-locked with a fake-and-baked, orange-hued muscle man at the bar (even if she claims she mistook him for me). What I’m trying to say is this: there’s undoubtedly been a loss of trust. Never in my long memory of professional sports has a franchise player been so recklessly used and abused by his primary handler. And what has your evasive head coach offered in response to his unconscionable (and fire-able) mental lock last January? Not much. There’s been no top cover for RGIII, no public apology or unequivocal acceptance of responsibility. Instead, he’s basically left your franchise player to set a new rehab record in a heroic attempt to clean up the coach’s mess.
Your quarterback is a smart guy. He knows Mike Shanahan jeopardized and may have truncated his football career — the primary source of his earning power and springboard for the other things he wants to do in life. So what is RGIII’s response going to be when the inevitable demands of a long NFL season compel the coach to goad his best player into playing a little harder and sacrificing a little more? The guess is RGIII plays a little more for himself this year and a little less for Shanahan and, by default, you too, Washington.
And don’t think this recurring, psychological impact of “the accident” only afflicts RGIII. The entire roster watched the hero being slowly slain by the man entrusted with his long-term health. If he’ll “do” the franchise like that, what destructive acts would he demand (or silently endorse) from the average player? That’s the question in the back of the minds of RGIII’s teammates. Such seeds of doubt can erode a team’s will over a long NFL season and represent the very, very thin line between a 6-10 or 10-6 record. What’s the state of the professional marriage between your head coach and his players? I presume it’s not as healthy as you thought. Did I mention I do group therapy?
Oh, time’s up, Washington. What’s that? You’re upset you didn’t get to speak? Well, that’s because you didn’t need therapy. You needed a lecture. There’s more to your recovery than RGIII simply receiving medical clearance. Got it? Now run along and hope, no, pray (rent a God momentarily if need be) your quarterback is equipped with a forgiving heart — or at least a short memory.