He has also experienced plenty of lows: a blowout loss in Super Bowl XLI, game-killing interceptions, double-digit losses, benchings, and boos, jeers and insults rained down from fans.
Grossman’s 10th NFL season featured an entirely new experience, however. A year after starting 13 games for the Washington Redskins, Grossman accepted a much different role: one of adviser, interpreter and player-coach to rookies Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.
Grossman, 32, has been in uniform for just two games this season, and he didn’t take a snap in either, the first season in his career that has happened. In practices, he runs the scout team — directing the opposing offense to help Washington’s defense prepare for what it will face the upcoming Sunday. In meetings, he watches, listens and takes notes for a game plan that’s not designed for him.
But the swashbuckler-turned-mentor is fine with all of that. Determined not to become a destructive force, Grossman has tried to find whatever way possible to contribute to the Redskins’ turnaround. The role bestowed upon him this season goes unnoticed by outsiders, but it carries great importance to the Redskins’ players and coaches.
“He’s been an invaluable help and probably as big a reason as the coaches’ work for why Robert has had the success he has,” said Cousins, who added that Grossman deserves credit for having aided Cousins’s successful relief performance for the injured Griffin against Baltimore and for his successful start the following week at Cleveland.
Said Grossman: “I got the message pretty early: ‘You’re to be there to help the young quarterbacks get better.’ I knew that going in. It’s been a pretty easy transition into that, minus my competitive spirit wanting to play. . . . I’ve found myself enjoying it a little bit, and enjoying the process of helping. I want to contribute, so that takes the place of that.”
Grossman didn’t expect to start. Coming off a 5-11 season (5-8 in games he played) in which he threw 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and was sacked 25 times, changes were certain.
The Redskins sent three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams to get the No. 2 overall pick of the 2011 draft, and everyone knew what they’d do with it.
Even before he signed, Grossman had been told by the Redskins that they wanted him to serve as the veteran backup to their rookie quarterback, who wound up being Griffin as the Indianapolis Colts took Andrew Luck first overall. Grossman didn’t exactly expect the Redskins — who under Coach Mike Shanahan have usually carried just two quarterbacks — to also draft Cousins in the fourth round. But he took that decision in stride and maintained the same team-first mind-set.