Jerod Monk, a Baylor senior tight end, said Griffin underscored that last point. “He said, ‘If you have any issue, or need any kind of advice, feel free to call me,’ ” Monk said. “That shows you what kind of person he is.”
Saturday: Baylor’s game day
It was late morning on Baylor’s game day, and Griffin and Liddicoat were getting ready to leave for the stadium when the phone in their hotel room rang. There was a package for Griffin at the front desk. Could someone bring it up to them?
A few minutes later, a bellman knocked at the door and handed over the package. Griffin opened it, reached in and pulled out a DVD of “Cool Hand Luke.” It was a fitting conclusion to a running joke between Griffin and Shanahan that started after Thursday’s win, when Shanahan had compared Griffin to Paul Newman’s title character in the 1967 film. After Griffin admitted he had never heard of the movie, Shanahan vowed to send him a copy.
And here it was. Griffin immediately tweeted a picture of himself holding it up to his 500,000-plus followers.
“It’s too bad we don’t have a [DVD] player with us,” Griffin said later. “We’ll have to watch it when we get home.”
Griffin’s first stop when he reached the stadium, some 90 minutes before kickoff, was to the Baylor locker room, where he visited individually with his old friends. Then he headed down the tunnel toward the field, steeling himself for what was about to come.
No sooner had he stepped onto the turf, it started. Cries of “Robert!” from people who know him, and “RG3!” from people who don’t. All of them wanted a picture with him, and he obliged them all, in groups or individually, putting his arm around each subject and smiling into the camera.
He posed with the Baylor cheerleaders, the Bears’ training staff, and a group of Texas Tech male cheerleaders called the Saddle Tramps, each of them dressed in red and holding a cowbell. He took pictures with the referees, the chain gang and a quartet of Texas highway patrolmen.
Griffin stayed outside the Baylor locker room as Briles gave the players his final pep talk, then stood at the door as they emerged, slapping high-fives with each one, saying: “C’mon! Time to go to work! I love you guys!”
It was a typical Baylor shootout — the kind Griffin had trademarked a year ago — with the scores climbing into the 40s, and Griffin watched most of it while seated on an equipment trunk behind the bench, with Liddicoat by his side. Only a few times did he venture toward the bench or the sideline to provide some encouragement.
But as the minutes ticked down, Griffin stood on the trunk and motioned with his arms for the fans to get loud. In overtime, with Baylor up 52-45 and its defense facing a fourth and five to clinch the win, Griffin crept up toward the sideline. And when Texas Tech’s last-chance pass fell incomplete, he sprinted out toward midfield to join the celebration.
“Having him around was huge for us,” said senior wide receiver Lanear Sampson, one of Griffin’s closest friends at Baylor. “Any time he’s in the room, you can feel the energy.”
A few dozen more pictures, a few dozen more hugs, and Griffin and Liddicoat were in a car in the bowels of the stadium, headed back to the hotel. The plan was to work out together at the hotel, get to bed early and catch the first flight to Dulles on Sunday morning. On Monday, Griffin starts another work week as the quarterback of the Redskins, with the first-place New York Giants visiting FedEx Field the following Monday night.
What more could he have asked from the weekend? It played out as if scripted by Griffin himself: The wins came in pairs, the touchdowns came in bunches, the love came in bushels, and even the hatred of Cowboys Nation felt clean and full of more awe than bile.
“To play the way we played on Thursday,” Griffin said, “and then get to come to this game and watch the Bears become bowl eligible for the third straight year – it’s just been an amazing few days.”
But then Griffin’s phone started chirping. Some more people were looking to get pictures taken with him. Was he still around? Could he come to the field?
Griffin climbed out of the car and walked back through the tunnel. He draped his arms around a few more shoulders, smiled into a few more cameras, shook a few more hands. After the last one, he paused for a few seconds to make sure everyone was good.
And then he walked back to the car, his arm around Liddicoat, disappearing around a bend.