Which Is It, RGIII: Quarterback Or Media Darling?
By Ronald Guy
I want to like Robert Griffin III and, for the most part, I really do. He’s bright, athletic, courageous, charismatic and the only reason the Washington Redskins register on a national stage. An overstatement? Hardly.
Fourteen months ago, the quarterback stable included Rex Grossman and John Beck (ugh). I suddenly feel flu-ish. Images of 10-sack games, hopeless passes floating into the secondary, fumbles in the backfield and serial check-down passes to running backs are flashing across my mental horizon. Doc?!
So yes, I like RGIII. No, I love me some RGIII … just not all aspects of him. Thirteen months into our relationship, I’ve finally found a trait to nit-pick — and I’m not even sure it’s his fault (sounds fair to me). Here’s my rub with No. 10: for some reason, he cannot escape the camera. He’s done multiple major ad campaigns, an expose in ESPN The Magazine, chatted up the President, walked the red carpet at an NFL awards show a few weeks after surgery, did calisthenics during the team’s draft party, attended the Kentucky Derby and boldly placed unnecessary pressure on himself to post for Week 1.
The adults in the equation haven’t helped either. We’ve heard disjointed comments from the head coach, bizarre proclamations from the surgeon and commentary from RGIII’s dad on how his son should be utilized in the future.
And just when I thought RGIII’s overexposure would fall short of the completely absurd, his wedding date and wedding registry were “leaked” to the public. That may sound innocuous enough, but pause and reflect on what a rabid fan-base with an insatiable appetite for its willing franchise savior would do with a list containing the specific desires for his domicile. Not a group to miss a chance to play Santa Claus, they purchased his wish list! Well of course they did! Are they fans or cult members? I’m no longer sure.
Will the fan-base now seek credit for wins next year? Surely RGIII’s recovery and strong play is related to the good night’s sleep he got on those sweet silk bed linens from Joey in section 423. Certainly it was the stainless steel toaster oven from Sally in section 204 that provided the perfect morning nourishment to keep him playing strong into the fourth quarter (momma always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day). And don’t dismiss the fuzzy slippers from Jim in section 108, I’ve heard that design is excellent for bunions. Will it end? Ever? What unimaginable headline will next week bring? How do you top fans buying up a wedding registry? Rhetorical questions, don’t answer.
The trouble with all this well-intended fun is it requires (you guessed it) a response from RGIII. What I can’t figure out is if RGIII minds or if he enjoy the attention — any attention — and views it as a furtherance of his brand? The longer his life off the field continues to resemble an (as of yet) un-syndicated reality show, I’m more inclined to lay the blame at his feet — and that, Houston, is a problem. I realize RGIII’s a hard worker and committed to his craft, but the unnecessary noise in his head must sound like an AM radio frozen on an open frequency with the volume all the way up. No one possesses the bandwidth to deal with a major rehab, being the face of the franchise and preparing for a sophomore season while dealing with all this added drama. Riddle me this: when did the Redskins sign up for “Hard Knocks”?
Let me offer another example to illustrate the quandary. Compare RGIII’s life after the 2012-13 season to Andrew Luck’s. The former hasn’t been able to escape the headlines (or ensured that he wouldn’t) while the latter has managed to remain virtually anonymous outside of the great state of Indiana. One is constantly encouraging us to slip on our Adidas, run to a nearby Subway — his “official training restaurant” — for lunch and to wash it all down with Gatorade. The other is, presumably (because there have been few public sightings), squinting under the bright sunlight enveloping a football field by day and is buried in darkened film rooms by night. Now, you tell me who is more focused on football and better positioning themselves for success in 2013 and beyond.
The only way RGIII’s professional existence wrestles any normalcy from this boiling caldron of chaos is for the center of it — RGIII himself — to take control of the situation. I’ve given up on his handlers, his employer, his physician, his family and even his fiancé (seriously, how in the world does that wedding registry leak?). What I still maintain is hope in RGIII himself, which might be the only constant of his short professional life.
Here’s the most clear and present danger to the flame burning atop the hope candle: in just over a year since being drafted, RGIII has perhaps become the most famous quarterback in the NFL, but he has a long way to go to be the league’s best. He seems to want to be both, but the lust for fame and the desire for professional achievement are often divergent pursuits and may ultimately prove to be mutually exclusive — even for a guy who apparently thinks he can do it all.