If Robert Griffin III’s time in Washington isn’t officially over yet, it’s definitely putting on its rain coat, stomping its feet impatiently, and staring at its spouse while gesturing to its watch.
And this can’t possibly be said enough: two years ago you would have heckled into oblivion anyone who suggested Griffin would be benched twice in three seasons, once for Kirk Cousins and once for Colt McCoy. Maybe you wouldn’t have even heckled such a prophet. Maybe you just would have felt sorry for him.
There will be career obituaries galore if this thing continues on this path, and explanations far more detailed than this one. But for now, here is Griffin’s tenure in Washington, via 10 quotes.
1. The Trade
On March 11, 2012, the Redskins traded for the pick that would become Griffin. Fans went berserk with happiness. The next morning, at least one sent in his order for RGIII vanity plates. And team executives were also euphoric. Thus, this excerpt from Adam Schefter:
The March night when the Redskins agreed to send three first-round picks and a second-round pick to St. Louis for the right to go up to No. 2 in the draft and select Robert Griffin III, Washington’s brain trust celebrated in a style that was beyond grand. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder boarded his private plane with general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan, and the men flew to the Bahamas to celebrate their franchise-altering acquisition. The men spent the weekend toasting their trade, playing golf and celebrating a deal that neither Cleveland nor Miami could get done….When word of the Redskins’ weekend trip to the Bahamas filtered back to St. Louis last winter, Rams officials kiddingly wondered out loud, “They’re celebrating? Maybe we didn’t get enough.”
2. The Pick
I was at FedEx Field the night the Redskins picked Griffin: In addition to the euphoria, and the Superman socks, and the jerseys, and the happiness, this was the primary memory: “R-G-3, R-G-3, R-G-3!’ That chant signified everything for the first few months: the hope, the excitement, the unity, the sense that after 15 years, things would finally be different. People chanted it at baseball games and at basketball games and in bars and in the stands. It was the soundtrack to a new beginning.
3. The Introduction
The next few days, all was bliss and optimism. Good heavens, read Thomas Boswell’s draft day column. But here’s the quote that gets me: from a Boz column a few days later, after Griffin had been introduced to the fans.
“I’m not here to take the weight of the last 20 years on my shoulders,” Griffin said. “I don’t have to do everything myself. I don’t know everything about the Redskins yet, but I know the struggles the team has gone through, especially at quarterback. I plan to be the solution.”
4. The Glory Days
Much of the 2012 season was glorious, but one moment stands out: the 76-yard touchdown run and subsequent win against the Vikings, leading to the “Electrifying!” call from Larry Michael that is still played nearly every day on ESPN 980. But two quotes from that day stick with me, and I’m going to treat them as one item here. The first, from Fred Davis:
“You really can’t say much more,” Davis said of Griffin’s performance. “I mean, like I said, he’s Black Jesus right now. He saved us today.”
And the second, from then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, speaking of President Obama:
“He did comment last night on the restoration of faith in Washington sports teams created by RGIII’s remarkable performance in the Redskins game.”
I mean, the language for a few months in 2012 was just….read this Sports Illustrated piece, headlined “Hail to the Chief.” Like so many stories back then, there were Obama comparisons. There was a fan, saying ‘“He gives us hope — the most hope I’ve felt in 10 years.” And there were longtime observers, like Fred Smoot.
“He’s perfect,” Smoot said. “If I were the Redskins, I would’ve given up FedEx Field for him. He will be their quarterback until the day he chooses to retire. He’s going to change how people view the Redskins…He’s one of those athletes who changes franchises.
5. The Seattle Game
There are so many memorable quotes in the aftermath of that game and Griffin’s crippling knee injury, from Mike Shanahan to James Andrews to a host of angry local and national analysts. But Griffin’s own comments are the most evocative nearly two years later:
“You respect authority and I respect Coach Shanahan,” Griffin said. “But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game….
“I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there,” Griffin said. “But every time you step on the football field in between those lines you’re putting your life, your career, every single ligament in your body in jeopardy. That’s just the approach I had to take towards it. My teammates needed me out there. So I was out there for them….
Griffin said he didn’t feel he hurt the Redskins’ chances to win by remaining in the game, saying: “I’m the best option for this team and that’s why I’m the starter.”
6. The Catchphrases
Yes, catchphrases can be quotes. And there were a lot of them. Two stand out.
7. The Benchings
The 2013 season was a slow spiral, until the end finally came in December. And let’s go a bit off-script here. One of these quotes is from Mike Shanahan, directly after a horrible 2013 loss that would be Griffin’s final start. The other is Jay Gruden, directly after a horrible 2014 loss that would be Griffin’s final start. Neither said Griffin was being benched. Neither had to.
“We’re still gonna watch this film and evaluate what we’re doing as an offense, and then we’ll have to figure out what players at what positions are going to play and start to give us the best chance.”
“We’ll talk about all that later. I would say that about anybody, any position. We’ll talk about that [after] we look at injuries, look at where we’re at, what direction we’re going.”
The first is Gruden on Sunday; by Wednesday, he was talking about Griffin’s benching. The second in Shanahan on a Sunday; by that Wednesday, he was talking about Griffin’s benching.
8. The Gruden Honeymoon
Hard to remember now, but this was actually a real thing. His career would be restarted, and with weapons everywhere and a new-school offensive wizard on the sidelines, Griffin would be back. For a sample, here is the quarterback, speaking to Bleacher Report’s Les Carpenter:
“Anytime you get into a group you can kind of have groupthink—no one’s saying no, or no one’s saying yes and everyone’s saying no,” Griffin says, an obvious reference to Shanahan, whose employees feared him so much that even long after they have stopped working with him, their words quiver when his name is raised. “There’s no groupthink going on with this staff….To have them is a blessing.”
9. The End
It was over when Jay Gruden took Griffin apart at the podium, a move that left everyone who has ever watched an NFL press conference stunned. Among the blows:
“From his basic performance just critiquing Robert, it’s not even close to good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position,” Gruden said.
“Robert needs to understand he needs to worry about himself No. 1 and not everybody else,” Gruden also said. “It’s my job to worry about everybody else. Yes, everybody else needs to improve, but it’s not his place. His place is to talk about himself and he knows that.”
If that wasn’t enough, remember Chris Cooley’s film analysis, one of several similar things that ran wild on the internet last week.
“You can’t grade anyone else around Robert because of the way Robert played,” Cooley said. “Any scout, coach, fan can look at this film and say, if this is who he is, we can’t get better as a team.”
10. The Tweets
This one comes out of order. But man. There has been a lot of social media meat to chew on over the years, and it doesn’t really look better with time.
More from The Post:
Fancy Stats: Griffin’s startling decline