Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and his father shouldn’t be criticized for locker-room visit


Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III fist-bumps with his father before the Nov. 3 win over San Diego at FedEx Field. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

With all the flak being hurled at Robert Griffin III — deserved and otherwise — there is one criticism I haven’t been able to understand: that his father (gasp!) went into the locker room after the game to check on him.

He has been hit so hard, so often, this season I’m surprised doctors all over the area haven’t lined up outside the stadium to check on him. I don’t see why his father entering the “sanctity” of the locker room is such a big deal.

He’s hardly the first relative of a player to enter the postgame locker room. A former player’s brother used to be in the locker room after every game, and he seldom came alone. He brought Washington Capitals with him; he brought alt-rockers with him; he may have brought an alt-rock band called the Washington Capitals with him, for all I know. They were just more people to maneuver around to get to the players. The room isn’t every big.

The point is, no one threw a fit about it, and he wasn’t there to check on his brother’s health. But because this is Griffin, suddenly it’s wrong for a parent to express concern? Griffin might have come down with a severe case of big head, but this is one sin that can’t be laid at his cleats.

The debate brought back memories of the time my dad came into a locker room to check on me. This was during a girls’ basketball game back in high school. I wasn’t a bad shooter but not a great one, and a growth spurt had taken me all the way up to 5 feet nothing. So I didn’t play a lot, but I was used for one purpose: I was what they called a hacker. If you wanted a foul delivered along with a message, you put me in the game. I had been asked to do that against the opposing center, who was a foot taller than me and threw hay bales in her spare time. She sent me flying, as was her prerogative.

It hurt, of course, but not alarmingly so. I went in the locker room at halftime, sat on a bench, and listened to Coach Converse (really, that was her name) deliver her talk. Then everyone got up and stormed out onto the court.

Except that I was unable to stand. I didn’t even have much pain; I just couldn’t move. Thankfully, my dad noticed and came to find me. He got me up, told me to rub some dirt on it, or some such advice, and I got myself back to the bench. I was scared to sit so I stood the rest of the game. And then I went to the doctor, who diagnosed a broken tailbone. How do they diagnose a broken tailbone? In a small town in the 1970s, it didn’t involve an X-ray, I can tell you that. I carried a pillow around school for months — always a popularity booster!

I realize I was 16 and Griffin is 23, and I was a high school hacker and he is a professional football player, but he’s also someone’s son. Maybe a lot of dads would like to get in there and never asked. Or maybe they asked and were turned away and Griffin’s dad was allowed because he’s Griffin’s dad. In either case, that’s hardly Griffin’s fault. Plenty of things have been his fault this season, and those are fair game. The concern of a father shouldn’t make that list.

For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.

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