Griffin’s exposure is approaching Jordan-esque levels. He is already one of the faces of the NFL. He has national endorsement deals with Gatorade, Subway and Nissan, among others, and is vying for the corporate pitchman standard Jordan held throughout his playing career. There are indeed millions of reasons for Redskins veterans to resent Griffin, or at least tune him out.
The Redskins, however, have eyes. They watched Griffin achieve perfection in the rout of the Eagles (he’s one of only two rookie quarterbacks in league history to have a perfect passer rating in a game). They celebrated after he led a drive that resulted in a game-winning field goal against Tampa Bay. They cheered as Griffin all but finished a victory over Minnesota with an electrifying 76-yard touchdown run.
At the time of Griffin’s speech to his teammates, the Redskins had five division games remaining in their final seven. Griffin had no doubts Washington could make a late-season playoff push. “There were a few things I needed to say,” Griffin said. He promised to dominate, and the offense has produced 69 points in the past two games.
Time and time again, Griffin has walked the walk after talking the talk, “and you can’t help but want to follow a man like that,” injured linebacker Brian Orakpo said recently. “I know how it looks, man: You [would] think some guys wouldn’t be happy about a rookie coming in and being all out front like Robert.
“I don’t know about other teams, but I can tell you how it is here: Nobody has even talked about him being [a rookie] for a long time. We all know who he is. And when he talks about guys working hard and doing it the right way, we see him do it.”
Griffin has reinforced his let’s-fight-to-the-finish message in one-on-one sessions with teammates. It’s still well received.
“Ultimately, he understands that we live and die with his performance at this point in his career,” special teams standout Lorenzo Alexander said. “He put us on his shoulders and he’s also saying some pretty motivational things about what’s at stake. Basically, he’s doing everything you could ask of him.”
Griffin is talking, his teammates are listening and the Redskins are relevant. He is proof you don’t have to be the most experienced guy in the room to lead — you just have to be the right one.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.