On July 18, Griffin signed his rookie contract — a deal worth $21.1 million over four years, including a $13.8 million signing bonus. In April, he was drafted second overall by Washington, which forked over three first-round picks and a second-round choice to the St. Louis Rams for the right to select him.
But the Heisman Trophy winner insisted Wednesday that while he expects to lead the Redskins back to glory, he will not do it alone. He said the staggering amount of attention he has attracted before taking his first NFL snap will be shared with the other 89 players on Washington’s training camp roster. They have drawn motivation from him and he has encouraged them to join him in the spotlight.
“It’s less about myself, but about helping this team get back to where we want to be,” Griffin said. “They want us to be in the forefront, they want us to be talked about in not a bad way. So I think those guys look at it as, ‘We’ve got our chance to have the spotlight, so let’s go seize it.’ ”
With big contracts, endorsement deals and commercials behind them, Griffin and the Redskins will get down to the task at hand Thursday in heat forecast to reach 100 degrees. They believe that together they will reap the benefits.
“It’s just all business now,” Griffin said. “We’re getting down to the season time and I think everybody came back in great shape. . . . Everybody’s ready to go out and compete and I am, too.
“I’ve been through the offense, had a trial at it and got a taste of how fast the game is and what I need to do as a quarterback to help this team win,” he added. “I feel a lot more comfortable. It’s actually more relaxing, and there’s nothing else going on outside of football anymore. We’re in training camp now so we’re pretty much on lockdown, but for a guy like me, that’s a good thing.”
The Redskins are counting on Griffin to end 20 years that have ended mostly in disappointment. Since winning the Super Bowl to cap the 1991 season, the Redskins have made the playoffs only four times (1992, 1999, 2005 and 2007), and have seen only two quarterbacks (Gus Frerotte in 1996 and Brad Johnson in ’99) reach the Pro Bowl.
The Redskins wasted no time heaping expectations and responsibility upon Griffin. After just three rookie minicamp practices, Shanahan named him the team’s starting quarterback. As he absorbed offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s extensive playbook, Griffin also worked to earn the trust of his veteran teammates on and off the field.
“He’s embraced the whole objective of being the leader of this offense,” said left tackle Trent Williams, who will protect Griffin’s blind side. “He’s worked so hard to get this offense down and not make a mistake, and when you see a rookie doing that, it makes everyone want to work to be that much better.”