They say never kick a man when he’s down; it’s beneath you to do so. In this case, for Washington fans, it may be the best thing that could happen to you. I am sure all of you knew the entitled kid growing up, the one that felt he or she should get whatever they wanted, when they wanted, because their parents could afford it. John McEnroe once said his kids weren’t the world-class athlete he was because they suffered from “affluenza”- hilarious, and spot on. The difference between McEnroe’s kids and most modern athletes is that they don’t suffer from “afluenza;” they suffer from something far worse - world-class athletic ability and people constantly reminding them of it. Having talent or the ability to excel in sports, academics, writing, or any of the countless fields is a great way to open doors to success. It is also a way to set your self up for failure if you do not manage it correctly. Unfortunately, on too many occasions this has proven to not only be true, and is a pitfall for a lot of athletes. Robert Griffin III is the latest and currently the best example of this.
In college, RG3 was a star track and field athlete, as well as the starting quarterback for Baylor University. While at Baylor, RG3 went on to win the coveted Heisman Trophy as the nation’s top college athlete. The man he beat out for that award was Andrew Luck (keep Andrew Luck in mind because we will get to him again). After Griffin’s Heisman Trophy came the 2012 NFL Draft, and his next step in the path to continued success. The Washington Redskins traded up in the draft to make sure they landed RG3 second overall pick, making him their franchise quarterback. The man who was drafted in front of Griffin was the same player he beat out for the Heisman Trophy: Andrew Luck. Again, keep Luck in mind. Griffin came to Washington with much fanfare and hope - or was it hype? No, hope. Hope has been the mantra in Washington for some time now. That’s what the President of the United States used as his platform, and that’s what the great people of our nation’s capital were preaching, too, for their new future star - hope. In his first season as starting quarterback, RG3 led his team to a division title, a play-off berth, and won himself a Rookie of the Year award along the way. He had endorsements, Subway commercials, ESPN commercials; he had analysts from all across the country singing his praises - the works. Everything was right with the world; nothing could hold RG3 back at this point. Then in the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, his knee gave out. Then it began.
Even right after the knee injury there were still RG3 commercials, still a lot of praise for the rookie of the year, and he was still Washington’s prodigal son. Hope, remember? It was not until after the knee surgery that people began asking questions. Would he be the same player after his recovery? Was he too small to do all that running on the field? Was he still going to be RG3? Of course, RG3 and Washington management made the world feel certain he would be his regular, explosive self once he returned. All the while the press conferences, the commercials, and the ESPN specials were continuing - nothing changed. Then preseason came and RG3 wasn’t ready yet, but it didn’t matter because RG3 told us he was starting game one; he would be out there, no matter what anyone told him, because, of course, he was the savior - hope.
RG3 came out for game one, waving flags, pounding the ground, letting the world know he was back and better than ever. Then the game against the Philadelphia Eagles started, and brought RG3 and Washington back to Earth. Washington lost the game, and RG3 did not play to his usually lofty standards. Then, every week from that point on, the same analyst that proclaimed he was as good as Andrew Luck during their rookie seasons quickly jumped off the RG3 train and began saying the man was too full of himself, too worried about his endorsements, too pig-headed to realize he was not ready, and last but most hurtful, not in the same league as Andrew Luck. So far through six games this season, RG3 has 5 interceptions - the same amount he had all of last season. He also has only 6 touchdowns, which for a quarterback of his caliber is just not getting it done. Looking at him sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter during the Cowboys loss last night, you can see RG3 looked…defeated, maybe. He was running much better this week than weeks past, but there are no moral victories in football - Washington lost, and RG3 just wasn’t good enough. Washington is currently 1-4, and as much as Washington fans won’t want to hear this, losing more games is a good thing.
The media turning against him is a good thing. Him having a horrible second season is the best thing that can happen to RG3 and Washington. Once he gets beaten down enough physically, and beaten over the head mentally from everyone saying Luck is the real deal, then I think we’ll see who the real RG3 is. No more press conferences, fewer commercials, less hoopla, more grind. Andrew Luck is currently 4-1, and other than watching him on Sunday, you don’t see or hear from Andrew Luck. When you do see Luck, he’s winning games and gaining plaudits from everyone. I know RG3 sees it, I know he hears it, and for Washington’s sake, he better hate it and accept it, for now. Once he has completely come out of the limelight, from the highs of winning the Heisman and Rookie of the Year awards, it will hopefully make him more humble, quiet, and a better player. So from this point on the mantra in Washington should no longer be hope. The mantra should be grind regularly, celebrate rarely. If not, RG3 won’t have to worry about looking in front of him at Andrew Luck - he might have to be looking over his shoulder at Kirk Cousins.