Sometimes you don’t know which ex-Redskins quarterback you really need to hear from until you actually hear from him. Like this week. On Monday, we heard from both Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III, two of the seminal players from the past decade of D.C. sports history. Then on Thursday, a heap of context arrived courtesy Rex Grossman, who appeared on ESPN 980, flinging insight into Cousins, Griffin, the Shanahans, and Rex Grossman. It was 19 minutes of going deep, and it was pretty great.
Listen to it here, but let me provide many of the highlights.
On Kirk Cousins’s contract status with the Redskins
“Well, I think Kirk is a top-10 quarterback in the NFL,” Grossman said. “And those are hard to find. So I think he’s worth every penny. I find it hard to believe that they didn’t offer him something he would take. I don’t really know the backstory of it too much. I just know that I’m proud of him for sticking to his guns and not taking some little incentive-laden deal that they probably tried to shove down his throat. He said no, and it worked out for him. So he’s gotten paid, plenty. And he’s probably gonna hit free agency and make a ton of money, so I’m proud of him.”
On Cousins being a top-10 quarterback
“I think that he’s got a really strong arm, he’s accurate, and is an extremely disciplined person,” Grossman said. “The person he is is what makes him a great player. He’s calm, disciplined, accurate and he’s a pretty damn good athlete too. So he does everything really well, and a few things exceptionally well. Players enjoy playing around him. He’s smart. He’s right in there in that top-10 quarterback range; I’m not sure where, but I think he’s established that. I know I could pick 20 worse quarterbacks.”
On the criticism that Cousins is too conservative in his playing style
“What I learned is you are who you are,” Grossman said. “I think that’s developed in how you’re born and how you play all sports. I think it’s drilled into you as a person, and then it reflects how you play. So I don’t know if he can change that. I think he is who he is, and he’s a really good disciplined accurate quarterback, and he should embrace that and keep his strength a strength and not try to run around and be Brett Favre if he’s not. He used to always tell me that he idolized Matt Hasselbeck, and I was always like what? I mean, Matt Hasselbeck was a good player and everything, but I’m not sure he’s got any posters on peoples’ walls. But [Cousins] enjoyed the journey that Matt Hasselbeck took to become a good NFL quarterback, and the style of play he said that matched his. He knows who he is.”
On his own personality and yes please pump this straight into my veins (and the question kind of involved playing blackjack)
“Sometimes I have to go with my instinct, and my instinct is sometimes wrong,” Grossman said. “But throughout my career I was always allowed to change the play whenever I wanted to based on the coverage. I was allowed to kind of be myself and go deep. I was encouraged to make sure you don’t miss the big plays. Coach Spurrier instilled in me, don’t check it down if the big play’s there. So that’s kind of how I was born. I always wanted to shoot a three-pointer in basketball, hit a home run in baseball. I don’t know why, that’s just, like, who I am. It goes off into blackjack as well. I’ll try to have a betting strategy where I’ll just bet two chips and then win, bet three, bet five, bet seven and keep it out there until you lose. But you know, sometimes you’ve got a gut feeling, and you put all the chips on the table.”
On going deep yes more more more
“I tried throughout my career a lot of times to be Charlie Checkdown and try to only go for it if it’s right there,” Grossmann said. “But to be honest with you, a lot of times I couldn’t see. I’m not the tallest quarterback … Sometimes you have to kind of have a little bit of faith that everything’s working out as you think it is. And in those moments you kind of have to make up your mind, is it worth it? … And sometimes you’re wrong. But a lot of times you’re right. It got me to the league, and I played 11 years, so I think it works out a little bit.”
On his competition with John Beck during the lockout offseason
“All I could go on was Adam Schefter’s reports,” Grossman said. “And he kept saying John Beck’s probably going to start, and it just pissed me off to no end. I really honestly believed they were gonna try to give him a chance to play. They kept saying they really liked his college highlight tape. And I was like what? You liked his COLLEGE HIGHLIGHT TAPE? I kept jabbing them a little bit, like let me put my college highlight tape on.”
On why Robert Griffin III is no longer in the NFL
“I think that the number one reason is that general managers are kind of scared that he’s just not any good anymore because of his injuries,” Grossman said. “I think they view him as not as athletic because of his injuries. There’s other reasons. I mean, I could really talk about it, but I’m not. But I think that’s the number one reason for sure. I mean, coming into the league he had one of the best rookie seasons I’ve ever seen, and he was fired up and healthy and running around and bright-eyed and willing to take coaching and all sort of things. He was like the perfect player, coming into the league as a rookie, and it went south after that. That’s the bottom line.”
On why it went south in D.C.
“It shouldn’t have,” Grossman said. “It shouldn’t have. But I know that the things you’re talking about, all the outside noise — they didn’t want me, [Mike Shanahan] didn’t want me — all that started to surface once drama was introduced to the whole thing. It was way too much drama for me, from my perspective. I didn’t like being in the middle of it and I didn’t understand why it wasn’t working. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes — it’s not my story to tell — but I will say this: I do think they ruined a good thing. So it’s kind of sad to see from afar, from both parties.”
On whether the Redskins and the Shanahans really truly wanted Griffin
“I don’t know if they wanted him or not, but once they did have him, I know that everyone at some point was 100 percent committed to one another,” Grossman said “The organization loved him, he loved the organization, the coaching staff loved him. At some point during that rookie year, everyone bought in.”
On Griffin recently disputing the well-told story that he went into a meeting with Washington’s coaches and said he didn’t want to run the zone read anymore.
“Yeah, that story’s true,” Grossman said. “Mike Shanahan has the tape of that meeting, if you want to get dramatic about it. Yeah, that video’s on tape. But I mean, it’s not that important to talk about it. Regardless of his desires to do different things, he wasn’t as good of a player the second year. I don’t know what happened to him. But he just wasn’t the same person, wasn’t the same player. Again, he was trying to be someone he wasn’t. Like we were talking about Kirk earlier, just being himself, being a disciplined accurate quarterback and just playing within himself. I feel like Robert was trying to be Aaron Rodgers, or trying to be someone he wasn’t instead of embracing himself and what he’s good at and building on that. So that could have been a problem as well.”
On retirement and whether he misses the game
“I mean, I miss every aspect of it,” Grossman said. “Playing in the NFL is the coolest job in the world. I mean, you’re playing football for a living, the guys in the locker room are fun, you’re getting paid a bunch of money. Like, there’s nothing about it that I don’t miss.”