Now that the draft is over, and the preseason is still months away, how should we spend our suddenly unoccupied NFL brain cells? Reading 19th century Russian literature? Learning the Beethoven Pathetique Sonata? Prepping for fantasy football drafts?
Nah.Worrying about the weather, evidently.
I have no doubt that ESPN.com’s Gregg Easterbrook is loads smarter than me, and actually knows things about weather patterns and droughts and hand size and the correlation between NFL success and cold November rain, but this passage from his latest opus definitely caught me off-guard.
RGIII’s exciting style of play and infectious smile both are promising. But standing next to various people at Radio City Music Hall, he did not look particularly tall — hardly seeming 6-2 3/8ths, as this absurdly precise card says. The related reddish flag is that in photos, his hands look small compared to the ball. ESPN’s metrics says Griffin’s hands are smaller than those of Andrew Luck. And a quarterback’s hand size matters a lot in rain.
Interesting. Tell me more.
(Don’t worry, he will.)
Griffin played his high school and college ball in Texas, where annual precipitation is less than that east of the Mississippi, and he became a football star during the period when much of Texas was suffering a multiyear drought. In his two starring seasons with Baylor, Griffin started 21 games in Texas, and five games in also-dry Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. So far as I could determine, he has never played in the rain zones of the Northeast Corridor or Pacific Northwest.
Now Griffin heads to the Redskins, who each season host eight games in rainy Maryland plus have annual road dates in rainy Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Quarterbacks with small hands tend to fumble when it rains. RGIII has little experience with rain-game conditions, and there is a lot of rain in his future. “Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands,” the poet warned. Sure, lack of rain experience is a super-specific concern. But Washington just invested three first-round draft choices in Griffin. Did the Redskins’ brain trust take this into account?
Scary! Well, using my computer machine, I tried to figure out if Griffin had ever played in the rain. Turns out his last-ever regular season game, against Texas just this past December, was played in the rain. A “rain-soaked day,” ESPN.com described it. And what happened?
On Saturday, in what may be the last home game of his college career, the Bears quarterback put on the kind of performance that could convince Heisman Trophy voters he’s best player in the country.
Griffin ran for two touchdowns, passed for two more and led the Bears to a 48-24 win over Texas in a statement game on national television. He passed for 320 yards with touchdown strikes of 59 and 39 yards.
As for “rainy Maryland,” NOAA data data indicate that Maryland is the country’s 18th rainiest state. Pennsylvania is 21st. New Jersey is 15th. Not exactly the rain forest.
More to the point, and putting aside the drought, Waco averages 34.7 inches of rain a year. Dulles, where RGIII will practice, averages 40.7 inches of rain a year. National Airport, closer to where he’ll play, averages 39.0 inches.
Have to say, I wouldn’t be outraged if the Redskins declined to turn down RGIII due to an extra six inches of rain a year.