“You know, man, it’s really kind of crazy when I think about what’s happening with him,” Campbell said, pausing for a hearty laugh before continuing during a phone interview Monday.
“A lot of the stuff that’s going on with him, it was like that for me back then. All the media, the expectations coming in, knowing that [the franchise] is counting on you . . . I’ve definitely seen this before. I lived it.”
Hopefully for the Redskins, the similarities will end once they select Griffin with the second pick in Thursday’s draft and add him to their payroll.
Campbell’s career never matched the fanfare of its promising start: The onetime quarterback of the future was history after just five seasons. The Redskins’ union with Campbell, traded to the Oakland Raiders after the 2009 season, was as smooth as a botched snap. Its failure offers a hammer-to-the-head reminder that no single player is capable of being a savior in a sport in which 11 men must work in unison to succeed.
Going all in for Griffin was the right move for the Redskins. Griffin possesses light-up-the room talent and personality. He could become every bit the transformative figure the Redskins envisioned when they sent three first-round picks and a second-rounder to the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft him. But he’ll need help the Redskins can’t currently provide.
Griffin will join an organization that has finished last or tied for last in the NFC East four straight seasons and in five of six. The Redskins haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2007. That’s not a team ready to take off. It’s one still trying to get out of the hangar.
It’s distressingly similar to the situation Campbell faced when he was brought in: The Redskins had gone five seasons without a postseason appearance. During that span, they never had a winning record. There was only so much a learning-on-the-job youngster could do while trying to remain upright.
Also, Campbell didn’t receive much help from management. Owner Daniel Snyder doled out big bucks for high-profile free agents — just not the ones who could have actually helped the team compete consistently.
The front office has undergone a makeover since Campbell lived in the film room at Redskins Park. The Redskins no longer waste millions on players. The roster has gotten younger under Coach Mike Shanahan. We’re still trying to determine, however, if it’s getting better.