“Everyone knows in Washington, D.C. that the most important person, with all apologies to President Obama, is the Redskins' quarterback,” said Tarik El-Bashir, Redskins Insider for Comcast SportsNet.
That person, of course, is Robert Griffin III, and he hardly seems human. Checking in at 6'2", 223 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Griffin tore up the track as he blazed an astonishing 4.41 time in the 40-yard dash.
“He can scramble real well. Matter of fact, I think that he's one of the best scramblers that I've ever seen,” said local fan Samson Ugorji.
There's more to the story behind Griffin's unprecedented hype train besides his physical skill set, though.He is as famous for his ear-to-ear grin and showmanship than he is for his speed or arm strength. “There are very few people who have the charisma to dominate a room, especially at 22 years old, but when he walks in, it's all eyes on him,” said El-Bashir.
Griffin has yet to play an NFL regular season down, but has already laid claim to the league's top selling jersey and has a household nickname in “RG3.”
“He has a nickname already and he hasn't played yet. He seems pretty marketable,” said Sarah Patgorski, who leafed through a rack of Griffin jerseys at a sporting goods store. "He's a brand already.”
Perhaps it's unfair for an entire city to rest its hopes on an unproven recent college graduate. The reality, though, is that Redskins fans are desperate for something — anything — to cheer for.
The team has not won a division championship since 1999 or a conference title since 1991. The all-important quarterback position has been a revolving door in Washington as the coaches have turned to 12 different starters since the turn of the century. Redskins supporters have been a fan base deprived of hope, and fans view Griffin as capable of filling the void inside them.
“I never really had a favorite team. I don't want to say that I just jumped on the bandwagon, but I've kind of been a Redskins fan undercover,” said Ugorji, who explains that Griffin's arrival has made fans more proud to sport the burgundy and gold, and it's not hard to see why.
Griffin has talent on a team that only sent one member — 37-year-old inside linebacker London Fletcher — to the 2012 Pro Bowl. He has personality that easily overshadows predecessors Rex Grossman, Jason Campbell and John Beck. Unlike most franchise quarterbacks, who are white and represent cities that aren't, Griffin figures to grow into an influential black role model in Washington, D.C.