Maybe the Redskins and their fans will, eventually, feel about this electric, exciting news the way Broncos fans still rejoice at the memory of getting John Elway from the Baltimore Colts for Mark Herrmann, Chris Hilton and a draft pick that became somebody named Ron Solt.
Or they may grin the way Cowboys fans still get a tingle recalling Jimmy Johnson’s inspired 18-player deal in 1989 that sent Herschel Walker to the Vikings for five players and six draft picks. Those 11 pieces were eventually transformed into Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, Russell Maryland and others that formed the dog-to-dynasty leap in Dallas in the ’90s.
Derring-do and desperation don’t always equal dumb. Sometimes, “at any price” can be a bargain. From physical talents to football temperament, from classroom intelligence to responsible ebullient character, it’s hard to imagine a quarterback on whom you’d rather risk your future than RGIII. These days, everybody’s supposed to say “Yea” or “Nay,” in real time. Put me down for “Yea.” This gives the Redskins a chance to be special again within two or three years. It’s exciting. But I’m not the one going over a waterfall without a barrel.
There’s a karmic shadow over this deal, of course. It’s the apotheosis of the whole Daniel Snyder era. Just a few hours after Peyton Manning didn’t even give the Redskins a waltz on his city-hopping dance card, the team completed this blockbuster. Maybe Griffin was always Plan A. But the appearance, around the NFL, was that the Redskins hadn’t even made the first Manning cut. “We’ll-show-’em-we’re-not-dysfunctional” decisions have long been a dysfunctional Redskins trademark. But, sooner or later, one of ’em has to work, right?
The Redskins needed a huge splash for every conceivable reason: to give their fanatic fans a glimpse of glory, not more grief; to give Mike Shanahan a realistic chance to be successful again; to stay dominant in a sports market where other rivals are emerging; and to keep printing money for one of the most valuable sports franchises on earth.
Griffin’s career deserves to be measured on its merits, rather than the Redskins’ prayers or the price they paid. But the backdrop is unmistakable. The Redskins just doubled down on the very same high-profile, high-cost, high-risk (or all-of-the-above) method that has introduced Washington to Deion Sanders, Jeff George, Marty Schottenheimer, Dan Wilkinson, Bruce Smith, Steve Spurrier, Mark Brunell, Adam Archuleta, Sean Gilbert, Jim Zorn, Gregg Williams, Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb and Shanahan. That the list is so long and familiar doesn’t make it any less staggering. RGIII will either demolish an amazing losing streak or confirm a curse.