Barely 48 hours later, Griffin, now wearing a green, long-sleeved Baylor University T-shirt, rushed out to nearly the exact same spot on the Cowboys Stadium field, celebrating his alma mater’s overtime victory along with his ex-teammates. He hugged them, told them he loved them, and finally left when no one needed any more pictures with him.
In between those midfield moments, Griffin, 22, floated through what was one of the most satisfying weekends of his life. On Thursday, in his professional debut in his home state of Texas, he led the Redskins to a 38-31 win over the Cowboys that put his team back in playoff contention and had analysts wondering whether he was the most valuable player of the NFL.
On Saturday, with Baylor playing Texas Tech, he walked around the same stadium like Elvis in Memphis — the Homecoming King — his superstardom somehow dialed up to yet another level. If he posed for one picture over the course of the weekend, he posed for a thousand. If he dispensed one hug, he dispensed a hundred. If he hugged one baby, he hugged a dozen.
And if he broke one Cowboys fan’s heart, he broke a million. For that matter, he also may have stolen a few, judging by the audible chants of “R-G-3! R-G-3!” that broke out across Cowboys Stadium during the Redskins’ win.
“It’s hard to put into words,” he said before departing the stadium Saturday evening, “but I definitely appreciate this weekend. It was just very gratifying.”
In the freezer of Jackie and Robert Griffin Jr.’s home in Gaithersburg — where they moved this fall to be closer to their son — is a fully cooked, reheatable, ready-to-eat, New Orleans-style Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey, gumbo, dressing, sweet potato pies.
Jackie Griffin had cooked it all over the preceding weekend, a labor of love, intending for it to be eaten by her son, Robert III, his fiancee, Rebecca Liddicoat, and a few family members the day after Thanksgiving, after the Redskins returned home from Texas.
“I have to make about 20 pies,” she had said the week before, “because Robert will eat half of them.”
But Griffin had long ago circled this weekend on his calendar. What were the chances his Redskins and his Baylor Bears, the team for which he won the Heisman Trophy a year ago, would play on the same field two days apart? He began bugging Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan about the possibility of staying in Texas for the weekend some two weeks ago, and Shanahan finally relented on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, giving the entire team the weekend off.