(By Jim Mone / AP)

If you don’t care about the sports media — which is a perfectly understandable stance — I would recommend against reading this item.

Because ESPN’s Sunday morning report about Robert Griffin III continues to generate interest, I thought it might be worth revisiting exactly what was said in the report. This is what ESPN’s Britt McHenry said Sunday morning during the network’s pre-game programming. (She appeared multiple times; this is just the one that I happened to record.)

“Robert Griffin III, dubbed the franchise savior just two years ago, appears to have fallen from grace in the eyes of some of his teammates. Now Griffin said he was ready to play against Dallas last week, but head coach Jay Gruden wanted him to wait and work on his footwork and dropbacks. I’m told several teammates did not know Griffin would be starting today until it came out in the media last week, and multiple sources told me several teammates are not happy about it.

“Now it’s telling, when Griffin addressed the media on Friday for the first time since injuring himself in Week 2, about 15 players in the locker room began shouting. It was so loud and so distracting that the franchise quarterback and us — all the reporters around him — had to leave the locker room and go somewhere where he could speak and be heard. And, in fact the cheering got more boisterous as the entire group had to leave the locker room.

“A source familiar with the situation told me, quote, Griffin has ‘alienated himself from the locker room.’ So a lot of question marks looming in terms of his mobility after that ankle injury, his production and what we can see today. And leadership, which has been there in the past, what it can now be for the future for Griffin moving forward with this team.”

As noted in this space, multiple local reporters took issue with how McHenry characterized the locker room incident. Also as noted in this space, Coach Jay Gruden fired back in extremely strong language, saying it was “an amateurish report” from “some small time reporter.”

On Monday, McHenry defended her report in an e-mail interview with SI.com’s Richard Deitsch. Quoting one passage:

“To be clear, I never said the locker room was shouting in revolt of Griffin starting on Sunday. Players were making jokes at team personnel, at us, and even chiding Griffin. The volume only escalated when he began speaking. It’s not uncommon to see athletes joke around before a fellow teammate addresses reporters, but it usually stops either immediately or shortly after the interview begins. That didn’t happen. We all had to leave the locker room so that Griffin could speak to us….

“When a marquee player, let alone a franchise quarterback speaks, there is usually enough decorum and command of presence for any behavior of that kind to subside. We don’t see or hear about this when Tom Brady addresses the media, nor Aaron Rodgers, or the Mannings. Therefore, the incident prompted me to inquire about Washington’s franchise quarterback. My question was does Robert Griffin III have enough respect within the locker room? I was told ‘no’ by several people, including one source who said Griffin had ‘alienated himself’ from teammates.”

She also wrote to Deitsch that “I’m confident enough in my reporting to do it all over again,” and that “My report was not false. ESPN has several sources to confirm it.” 

My colleague Jason Reid — who was quoted extensively in Deitsch’s report — also wrote about the incident in his most recent column. Like several other local reporters, he found the incident unprofessional and well beyond the typical locker room antics he’s seen in decades of covering pro sports, but did not think it was a referendum on Griffin:

If the Redskins had a take-charge leader who commanded widespread respect, he would have interceded before the nonsense that swirled around Griffin’s interview got out of hand. He would have realized that the Redskins already have had too many self-inflicted public relations disasters. He would have stopped the ridiculousness before additional reports about their warped organizational culture resulted in another game-day distraction.

And 106.7 The Fan’s Brian McNally — another veteran of dozens of pro locker rooms — spoke about the incident at length on the Junkies Monday morning. An excerpt:

“I hate commenting on like other reporters’ work, because I don’t know their sources and I don’t know who they’re talking to — but I do know I was in the room when that ruckus happened on Friday,” McNally said. “It was frankly embarrassing for the players. I mean I don’t care what the players think, I’ll tell them this to their face. We’re trying to conduct an interview with Robert Griffin III in the middle of the locker room, and to have 12 to 15 guys just making a ruckus, yelling nonsense, interrupting what we were trying to do; it wasn’t funny….

“It was malicious on some of the part of the players,” he said. “Obviously they were doing it to disrupt our jobs and what we’re trying to do. I understand it’s their locker room, but having said all that, none of that had anything to do with Robert Griffin III himself. He was just the guy conducting the media circuit in the middle of the room, and it turned into a complete circus with the players shouting — basically shouting so loud that we had to leave the room and go do the interview in the hallway.

“I mean that’s ridiculous, and it shouldn’t happen ever. And it’s never happened in — I’ve covered Caps, I’ve covered Nats, been in a lot of pro locker rooms — never seen that kind of nonsense, so I’ll go at any player who wants to tell me that was just lighthearted joking or whatever.”

Regardless, this incident has obviously elicited some strong emotions locally, as evidenced by some of the exchanges on Twitter. (The “financial partnerships” tweet was later deleted.)


(Twitter)

(Twitter)