Griffin’s season is a lesson in patience


Robert Griffin III wasn’t in uniform when the Redskins played the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. After a terrific rookie season, the quarterback had a disappointing year. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
December 19, 2013

Washington football fans will be glad when 2013 is over. So will Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

A Redskins season that started with so much hope has fallen apart. The team’s record is 3-11 (three wins and 11 losses). The Redskins have played so badly that some people think the head coach, Mike Shanahan, may lose his job.

Griffin has struggled, too. After an embarrassing 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Shanahan decided to bench Griffin for the final three games and play backup quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Cousins played well in Sunday’s 27-26 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. So now some football experts are saying Cousins may be a better quarterback than Griffin.

All of this is too bad for Griffin. But it’s a good lesson for kids.

Last season, Griffin was sensational, leading the Redskins to a division title and the National Football League (NFL) playoffs. Griffin was an almost magical player, running and passing for touchdowns. He even had a cool nickname: RGIII.

Sports fans seemed eager to declare Griffin the game’s next superstar. RGIII was everywhere: on magazine covers and in ads for Adidas, Gatorade and Subway. Despite a serious knee injury in the Redskins’ playoff loss to Seattle, Griffin promised to be back — as good as new — by the first game of the 2013 season.

Washington football fans everywhere were all in for Week 1. They were expecting more great things from Griffin.

But maybe Griffin was famous before he was truly great. After all, it takes many years to become great at anything, whether it’s being an NFL quarterback, a top student or a first-class musician. Think about some of the best NFL quarterbacks, such as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. They have been playing and learning for years.

Griffin has had only one good season. He still has a lot to learn about being an NFL quarterback.

Most athletic careers are not unbroken strings of triumphs. There are injuries, bad breaks and heartbreaking losses. Griffin is simply experiencing some of the tough times every player goes through.

Can RGIII come back? Sure. One disappointing season does not make you a failure any more than one great season makes you a superstar. Griffin is talented, hardworking and smart. He graduated from Baylor University in only three years. It takes most kids four or more years to graduate from college.

If Griffin’s knee gets better and he practices hard, he has a good chance of being a top-rated quarterback. But the first thing Griffin must remember is that he is not great just because he is famous. And he doesn’t have the game all figured out after one good season.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 19 sports books for kids, including two football books: “Touchdown Trouble” and “Quarterback Season.”

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