In his most reflective and expansive comments on his polarizing tenure in Washington, former Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said Monday that he was drafted by a coach that didn’t want him and by a team that wasn’t sold on him, and that the short life span of his time in Washington wasn’t in the best interest of either him or the organization.
During a nearly 30-minute interview with 106.7 The Fan, Griffin said repeatedly that he made many mistakes during his Redskins tenure, and he praised the city, the fan base and his former teammates. But he expressed frustration with the portrayal of his behavior in Washington and with the local media for continuing to mention his name.
“It’s really you guys, honestly. It’s the local D.C. media, constantly pulling my name into things,” he told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, while explaining his series of cryptic Sunday night tweets about the team. “I was a pro’s pro my last year there, didn’t make any noise with the team, did everything I possibly could, played scout team safety, ran routes for the QBs that weren’t playing and were active. And I felt like there’s no need for my name to be dragged in the dirt with those types of things anymore.”
In detailing his own shortcomings, Griffin went through things both on the field (his inability to stay healthy) and off (knowing what to say to the media and when to say it). He said he still hopes to play more football, and that he continues to work out in Florida to that end. He said he continues to root for the Redskins, and that he’ll always be linked to the franchise and to this city. But he pushed back on how he’s been portrayed in some media accounts, talking about his dedication to studying film and taking issue with suggestions that he demanded read-option plays be eliminated from the team’s offense in a meeting after his rookie season.
“Not once in that meeting did I ever say that I didn’t want to run the zone-read,” he said. “Not once in that meeting did I ever say that I want to be a pure drop-back passer.”
Griffin also argued he wasn’t drafted into a situation that was conducive for him to become the best player he could be, saying that realization bothers him more than any of the anonymously sourced accounts or media criticism.
“It’s really just the reality of the situation,” he said. “I was drafted to a team with a coach who didn’t want me, with an organization that wasn’t sold on me. And I think when you make that many trades and trade that many picks, you don’t do that for a guy that you’re not sold on.”
Griffin, of course, once seemed on track to become one of the most beloved players in franchise history; five years later he’s out of the league, which remains stunning in the context of his rookie year. (“In 2012 we were able to achieve those things and go out and put on a show and really electrify the city,” he said.) And he admitted that few players have had such a precipitous drop — from star to unemployed — in such a short period of time.
“I felt like my time there was cut short, partially due to injury, partially due to some other things,” he said. “And just the fact that at the end of the day, a coach [Jay Gruden] was brought in that didn’t believe in me and I didn’t really fit his system. So really and truly, as a No. 2 pick in the draft, and so many draft picks traded for a player, I got legitimately two years. And I don’t think that was in my best interest or in the organization’s best interest. But I’ve been able to accept that and move on from it, and I just want people to be able to realize that and not try to drag my name through the mud, when I’ve done everything that I was supposed to since the mistakes that I made in D.C. to rectify anything negative that was said about me.”
In perhaps his most fiery comments, Griffin fiercely defended his father from suggestions that he had meddled in his career, talking of his dad’s military service and insisting that he attended just two Redskins practices over four years.
“To just make up things about him and attack his character, those things bother me,” Griffin said. “He never once stepped foot in a meeting with Mike Shanahan and/or Jay Gruden, or any other coach for that matter. He never once told a coach what he should or shouldn’t do.
“And those are things that people continually say, and the one thing that I know is that perception becomes reality,” he went on. “And the longer you guys keep pushing this perception that I’m this ignorant, African American, arrogant, egotistical person, it makes people start to believe those things. And I feel that it’s not just unfair; it’s not right. Because those types of things, when you inaccurately portray somebody’s character or who they are or their family, it hurts their family, it hurts those people, and I don’t think that that’s right. I know the world that we live in nowadays is all about being disrespectful, and making fun of people, and who can make the funniest memes and all that stuff, but you have to understand that that stuff affects peoples’ lives.”
He asked critics to put their names behind their stories, “because I’m more than willing to talk with anybody about what they feel or what they say actually happened, and I can back up what I say with facts.
“And I don’t have to hide behind ‘sources’ or make up a story about anything,” Griffin went on. “I actually have the facts. I have the messages, I have the phone calls, I have the emails, and I’ve got the players in that locker room that will back up everything that I’m saying.”
The main thrust of his message, though, was that he’s come to a better understanding of why his career in Washington declined, and that he doesn’t look back with bitterness.
“I’m with everybody else in D.C.,” he said. “I want to see the Redskins win games and I understand why Coach [Gruden] made the decision that he made.”
His tweets, he said, were “just my way of saying, ‘Look, I get it. Just let me live. Let me move on with my life and don’t keep pulling me back into certain things that don’t need to be said.’ That was kind of my piece.”
Summary: Cowboys 33, Redskins 19