When the Redskins prepared to draft Griffin, “I said then, ‘RGIII and Pierre Garcon are going to be the perfect combination,’ ” Polian recalled. “If you just look at what Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are doing in Houston, with a very similar offense, they’ll do that — except RGIII probably has one-and-a-half times the arm that Matt Schaub does.”
On that scoring play, though, Garcon suffered a foot injury. He played just once more in September and once in October. The Redskins learned what they were missing. Since he returned Nov. 18 against Philadelphia, they haven’t lost. They average six yards after each catch, third-best in the league.
After so many of those catches, as Garcon spins the ball on the turf — “Angry,” Kyle Shanahan said — the Redskins are not sure what to make of it.
“He walks to the beat of his own drum, and it’s a different drum,” Griffin said. “It’s not a normal drum.”
There might be a reason for that. Kehres brought his grandson with him to the Redskins’ Dec. 16 game at Cleveland, and noticed Garcon’s unmistakable swagger when he jogged out of the tunnel.
“It’s like he feels like he still has to prove it, that he’s giving it his all,” Kehres said. “I know his toe hurts. I can tell. But there’s no complaining, no whining. Just go. He was like that here, and it seems like that’s what he’s still like.”
Back to real life
In the days after the earthquake, Garcon had to balance preparation for the first postseason game of his career with the silence from Haiti. There was no way to count the cousins, uncles, nieces and nephews who might have died.
That Saturday, four days after the earthquake, the Colts beat the Ravens, a game in which Garcon caught five balls and made a key play, stripping Baltimore safety Ed Reed of an interception with the Colts protecting a third-quarter lead. But when he walked off the field that day, his first thought was: “It’s back to real life.
“You think about: Hopefully, the family’s watching,” he said. “Hopefully, they heard something. Hopefully, they feel a little better because we won. Hopefully things are getting better because I played all right. Hopefully, there’s more good news.
“But you can’t control it. You can’t really get an answer.”
His mother and sisters, he said, were emotional wrecks. The Colts were beginning a drive to the Super Bowl, and Garcon caught 11 passes for 151 yards in the AFC championship game win over the New York Jets. But all that time, even as he found out that his closest relatives had survived, he knew he would have to go to back to Haiti.
“As a football player, you don’t walk around going, ‘Well, I’m an NFL player,’ ” Garcon said. “You only realize that when you’re off the field, and people remind you that you’re a big important person to them.”
That was Garcon’s role in this situation: Big and important. He helped raise more than $125,000 before traveling to Haiti that April. There, he helped rebuild a school. He fed children. He took photos of the ruined presidential palace in Port-au-Prince.
And when it was over, he said: “This is something we plan on coming back to.”
His last visit was in July. There will be another after this year’s playoffs, games that will include the Redskins if they beat Dallas on Sunday night. But each time a game ends, it is still back to real life for Garcon, who has never lived in Haiti but still considers it his home.