“And the Lord said unto his flock in Washington, ‘Take this young man, this impossibly gifted quarterback, and watch him hoist your moribund franchise upon his shoulders and into the playoffs.’ And lo, it was good. Sweet Jesus, was it good.”
So begins the latest national foray into the Robert Griffin III story, this one coming in the pages of GQ, whose September cover Griffin adorns. If you’re keeping score at home, you can tack that cover appearance on top of the hour-long ESPN documentary and the full-length book treatment, among highlights of this month’s RGIII frenzy. And August isn’t yet half-finished.
(Also, Griffin can now add his GQ cover shot to a national Sports Illustrated cover, a regional Sports Illustrated cover, two ESPN the Magazine covers, a Washington Post magazine cover, and more than two dozen appearances on the front page of this newspaper.)
In any case, the glossy magazine features all manner of Griffin imagery in its NFL Kick Off Issue, which hits newsstands Aug. 20. There’s a photo of the quarterback pairing football pants and cleats with a Michael Jackson-esque leather jacket; a photo of him matching Tommy Hilfiger pants with a Redskins cut-off shirt; and a photo of Griffin combining a white Gucci sweater with white football pants. Also, lots of Adidas products, if you can believe that.
Of greater interest to Redskins fans, though, will likely be the lengthy story by executive editor Brendan Vaughan, a lifelong Skins fan who already wrote about the quarterback last fall in the same magazine. (“An animatronic football god of the future,” he called him then.)
The latest story starts with Griffin waking up in tears after his latest knee surgery – familiar ground for careful followers of the Griffin oeuvre – but it transitions to less familiar territory.
One scene, for example, takes place in the Redskins Park weight room, where media members were mostly prohibited this offseason. Between repeated references to Gatorade, Vaughan notes Griffin quoting from a rap tune composed by his Waco buddy Quistar, a song whose lyrics make frequent reference to fired ESPN commentator Rob Parker.
“I haven’t blown the song up, because I don’t think it’s right to make fun of Rob Parker for losing his job,” Griffin tells Vaughan. “There’s some wrong in what he said, but there’s some wrong in him losing his job as well. And I don’t want people to think that I, you know, that I’m trying to stick it to Rob Parker, or that I’m happy he lost his job. But I was very unhappy with the things he said.”
There are out-takes and asides, from Griffin reflecting on Donovan McNabb’s offer of guidance (“Right now, it’s probably best that we don’t talk,” the younger man says) to Griffin reflecting on Brittney Griner’s recent confirmation that she is gay. (“I know Brittney,” Griffin tells Vaughan. “I’m close to Brittney. Griner was never IN. Everyone knew that.”)
But no look at RGIII in 2013 can stray too far from his most famous joint, not my colleague Dave Sheinin’s book, not the upcoming ESPN documentary – which focuses on Griffin’s rehab — and not this latest story. Griffin’s father tells Vaughan to “name one quarterback out there that would rather run the football than throw the football and I’ll show you a loser,” a quote that’s likely to make the rounds this week, and the quarterback himself is “half-jokingly” asked whether he has any advice for Bryce Harper. (This was while Harper was still coming back from injury.)
“If his knee is messed up and it’s not responding, then he doesn’t play,” the quarterback says. “That would be my advice to Bryce: Whatever they tell you, you decide what to do for you, and that’s best for the team.”
Ah yes, Bryce Harper. Another guy who was once featured in a GQ season preview.