Having ventured briefly into Ashburnistan this week (thanks Clinton), I happened to be sitting in the room when Robert Griffin III closed his Thursday press conference with a question about staying in the Lions game while he was getting battered by the pass rush.
“That’s the coach’s decision,” Griffin said. “As we like to say, I just work here, man. And I just want to go out there and every opportunity that I get, just try to execute the plays like they need to be executed, make a play when I have an opportunity, and let the coaches do the rest.”
I thought he was kind of trying to have fun with a no-win question, although possibly on a day when having fun was not what the fan base wanted. I didn’t really expect that quote would become a flashpoint in the latest maroon and black wars. But here we are.
Which all prompted some Redskins fans to discuss other Redskins players who have previously noted that they just work for the Redskins. There’s actually quite a history of this. I can’t promise this is comprehensive.
Ken Huff, 1985
The Redskins right guard was benched before a September meeting with the Bears, replaced by R.C. Thieleman. Reporters asked Huff how much he expected to play against Chicago.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just work here.”
Doug Williams, 1988
Amid many rumors that Redskins backup QB Jay Schroeder would be traded to the Raiders for defensive end Howie Long, the Los Angeles Times detailed the history of Washington QB rumors, including a 1987 possibility that Williams would be shipped to Los Angeles.
“From what I understand, it was real close on the Monday before the first game,” Williams said of a trade with the Raiders, “but Coach Gibbs decided not to do it. Those deals are between the Bobby Beathards, the Ron Wolfs and the Al Davises (Raiders’ managing general partner). I just work here.”
Darrell Green, 1998
This time the rumors concerned that Joe Gibbs had joined a group bidding to buy the Redskins, putting him in competition with the group headed by John Kent Cooke, the son of the team’s previous owner. With the key figures remaining mum, The Post asked players who had starred under Gibbs for their opinions.
“You’re just asking a little cornerback,” Green said. “I don’t know anything….That’s not really my position to make that kind of statement. I walk around here like I own the place. [But] I’m nothing. I just work here.”
Rock Cartwright, 2009
In Year 2 of the Jim Zorn Era, Cartwright found himself losing reps on kickoff returns in favor of Devin Thomas and Ladell Betts. The Washington Times reported that Cartwright “took the high road” when asked about the situation.
“I don’t make the calls,” he said. “I just work here.”
Rex Grossman, 2011
Locked in a battle with John Beck for Washington’s starting QB job, Grossman was asked who was expected to start the team’s third preseason game in Baltimore.
“Said Grossman with an awkward chuckle: ‘I’m not sure. I just work here. I don’t know….It is what it is. I’m not worried about it too much right now.”
Joshua Morgan, 2013
The Redskins receiver fell out of favor with the team later that season, and found himself playing fewer and fewer snaps.
“Things have changed from last year,” Morgan said. “I don’t know [why]. I just work here. I have no idea at all. It definitely was a surprise to most, but I have no clue. I couldn’t tell you. I guess it’s just the way that it is, and like I said, we have to make the best of it.”
Robert Griffin III, 2015
Just about a month before this latest flap, Griffin appeared on Redskins Nation with Larry Michael, where he was asked about reports of a previous dispute with Mike Shanahan over what offense Washington was running.
“You know, I’m a player,” Griffin said. “I’m here to play. As we like to say, I just work here. Open discussion. Coaches get to call the plays, and players have to run them.”
As for the Ravens, at least two of their stars — Steve Smith and Terrell Suggs — have also used the “I just work here” line in recent years. But it’s hard to find a better NFL usage than that of former Tampa Bay Coach Ray Perkins, who was asked about using substitute players during the 1987 strike.
“I don’t like the thought of the whole deal,” Perkins said, “but circumstances are beyond my control. I’m the coach and I’m gonna coach the players. I just work here.”