When he was a wide-eyed, fresh-faced phenom out of Baylor setting the NFL world ablaze with his incomparable combination of speed, athleticism and passing ability, RG3 would always shoulder the blame in a loss, regardless of whose fault it was.
He showed all of the initial signs of becoming a great leader. Cats marveled at his maturity, the way he commanded and inspired teammates.
The Washington Redskins ended 2012 on a seven-game winning streak before RG3’s season-ending knee injury in the playoffs The drama-filled rehab and whirlwind offseason that followed set the stage for the “fall from grace” that RG3 has experienced during Washington’s highly disappointing 3-9 season, which continued with a tough 24-17 loss to the equally underachieving NY Giants on Sunday Night.
Following last season’s playoffs, controversy emerged concerning Shanahan’s use of RG3. Some folks said he was setting the kid up for failure by relying on his legs so much. Shanahan had to eat a lot of the blame for letting an already punch-drunk RG3 convince him to go back in that game against Seattle. RG3 implied as much in his comments throughout the offseason—not saying it coldly—but dry-snitching on his coaching staff by hinting that they didn’t have his best interests in mind as a player. As this season wore on, tough losses piled up and fans and media began to criticize RG3 as a diminished player, glimpses of a new “immaturity” surfaced.
That’s when the blame game really began for RG3, when he stopped looking in the mirror for answers and began making excuses for his failures. RG3 did some more buck-passing and blamed his receivers for drops and failing to gain separation, after a 24-16 loss to Philly in Week 11.
“We had a certain concept with running and nobody got open so I was backing up, and in the situation where you get a sack there, it ends the game,” Griffin said of the final effort to score a touchdown late in the game .
His barbs haven’t gone unnoticed. Veterans who swore by him just a season ago are now taking public jabs at his character.
A couple of days after Griffin’s comments, wide receiver Santana Moss spit back at the young gun on the radio show of LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan in D.C.
“As a leader, you understand that if you’re involved in the situation, whether you’re the receiver, the quarterback, the guys making the tackle, whoever. Regardless of the outcome, good or bad, you have to at some point, stand up and say me or I,” Moss said.
And instead of focusing on turning this season around, RG3’s lashing out at folks at post game press conferences in defense of his pops. Sources say the Redskins’ locker room isn’t too fond of RG3 and his pops strutting around like they own the joint. It started this offseason with Griffin II coming out publicly and requesting a change in the way RG3 is used in the Redskins offense. Pops has also been very vocal following losses, and it’s rubbing cats the wrong way. The situation created more media backlash against RG3 and he again went on the defensive, mouthing back at whoever was targeting him.
After the Redskins' 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Monday night, Robert Griffin II sat at Griffin's locker and kicked it with his son for a while. He also was there after Griffin spoke to the media. The Redskins said on Monday that his dad was there because he thought his son had been hurt in the game after getting kicked in the family jewels.
"He showed up, I was shocked that he was there, but he meant no harm," Griffin said. "Anybody out there that's going after my dad needs to back up.”
RG3 spends as much time dodging the press and public opinion as defenders. Both have attempted to crush him like Justin Tuck did with a career-high four sacks on Sunday, helping a smothering Giants defense come back from 14-0 down and stay alive in the playoff race, while assassinating the Redskins’ playoff hopes.
Maybe the pressure of the lofty expectations, the eventful rehab process and the deafening horde of opinions, criticisms and analysis, affected RG3’s game way more than his bum knees ever could.
Some fans still want to blame his transformation from dual-threat to pocket passer as the reason for his lost impact. Last season, RG3 would have won a game in which he completed 24 of 32 passes for 207 yards and 88 yards rushing. In the first half against the Giants, Griffin turned back the clock and was mixing it up with short, crisp passes and smart, aggressive rushes. It was a blueprint of his first season as Chocolate City’s savior.
But when Tuck and Co. turned it up in the second half, Griffin regressed to the less-impactful signal caller that he’s become. The QB continues to struggle with not being great all the time and the effects of losing the support of people who used to worship him.
The Shadow League warned of how the hype machine could eat RG3 alive if he didn’t humble himself, and he couldn’t return from injury as the NFL’s Messiah:
“RG3 is addicted to the limelight. He even allowed cameras at his rehab sessions, and everybody knows that’s the opposite of self-deprecation, which is usually the key to avoiding haters . ESPN’s Jason Whitlock said Griffin “wants to be a Kardashian.”
A quote on self-absorption, from goodreads.com struck me immediately, when assessing RG3’s career to date.
“…the human being to lack that second skin we call egoism has not yet been born, it lasts much longer than the other one, that bleeds so readily.
RG3 got caught up in the sauce and started believing all the hyperbole and cult-worship. No player can ever be bigger than the league, no matter how much praise or how highly-marketed he is. More than any other sport, the NFL is business in which your first game can easily be your last.
That’s all Donovan McNabb was trying to prepare the young buck for, when the veteran QB offered RG3 advice to scale back his celebrity schedule and focus on getting healthy. With the support of his media and NFL groupies, RG3 basically told McNabb to shove it, but the experienced McNabb foresaw this very situation that RG3 is in.
Which brings me to another quote; a lesson in overvaluing your self-worth:
“We were the Leopards, the Lions; those who’ll take our place will be little jackals, hyena; and the whole lot of us, Leopards, jackals, and sheep, we’ll all go on thinking ourselves the salt of the earth.”
In other words, dudes like RG3, who egotistically sit on the throne thinking their doo-doo don’t stink, eventually fall in the toilet and become sh*t out of luck.
Maybe this season is just a test of RG3’s will and determination. Maybe the wheels of fate felt he needed to feel some tire tracks on that big, braided head. Maybe this entire process will result in RG3 becoming a more mature leader and refined pocket passer, which will extend his longevity as a football beast. Football commentator Cris Collinsworth was gushing about RG3’s improvement in the pocket during NBC’s telecast and said his future in that capacity is bright.
The fans who previously craved RG3—the human highlight film—like an addiction have already started moving on to the next flavor of the month.
Last season it seemed like the NFL wouldn’t survive without RG3’s heroics. He’s discovering that the NFL will go on with or without him. There’s probably a kid balling in the 10th grade right now who will draw comparisons to RG3 and be crowned his heir apparent. A healthy warrior that the NFL community can attach their often unrealistic, fickle hopes and dreams too. Not a compromised superstar with a big mouth and a bad attitude.