We don’t merely have great young players in this town; we have messiahs.
Because they dress in immaculate wool blazers or grow facial hair or put up the numbers of 10-time all-stars, because they sound so incredibly convincing and mature, we instantly ascribe labels like “mature” to them. We make some captains before they are ready to be captains. (Hello Alex.)
Yet after the commercial shoots and the pithy, cool answer that makes us all wish we had the same cocksureness of Bryce Harper at 19 or the apparent serenity of Griffin at 22, we forget they are still . . . kids.
When Sonny Jurgensen suggested to Griffin after Sunday’s game that he needed to think more of “the whole” when he’s not 100 percent, Griffin shot back, “I don’t feel that way. I’m the quarterback, doesn’t matter what percentage I am. I took myself out of the game because I knew I couldn’t do it.”
“They know I’m going to play no matter what. I don’t feel like me playing out there hurt the team in any way.”
Think about that statement: “I’m the quarterback, doesn’t matter what percentage I am.” That’s not a warrior or a captain soldiering on — that’s a guy who feels such a burden of responsibility he would subjugate his own health for what he feels is his obligation to his city and his teammates.
Why should he feel that obligation at 22?
In other places and towns, young athletes often get to be young athletes. Blake Griffin didn’t have to be the franchise player for the Clippers for too long before they brought someone older and better to help him in Chris Paul. Andrew Luck is an exception in Indianapolis. In most NFL cities, a young quarterback such as Andy Dalton has a nails defense and a receiving corps to help with his adjustment.
They grow up, learn the ways of becoming a professional and learn to win at the highest level. In Washington: You’re it, kid. Now go out there and win because the guy you replaced can’t.
“We gotta do it — who else if not us?” Wall said tellingly.
We’re not just fans in this town; we’re elevated Little League parents here, living vicariously through our young athletes. Sad, no? For millions of dollars and flashbulbs of adoration, we expect miracles of redemption from 22-year-olds with the same frail tendons and ligaments as the rest of us.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.