The Washington Post

Robert Griffin III talks about race



A natural in front of the cameras, Robert Griffin III has frequently joked that there are only three things he won’t talk about – race, religion and politics. But on Wednesday, at the end of his weekly news conference, Griffin, prodded by an ESPN reporter, veered away from the in-depth discussion about his injured right knee and made some of his most extensive public comments to date about the issue of race.

 “For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,” Griffin said. “You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I strive [for]. I am an African American, in America, and that will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.”

 Griffin’s comments were similar to ones made to The Post earlier this season, for a story that examined Griffin’s place within the African American community of greater D.C. But since that story appeared, Griffin has expressed a deeper understanding of how his presence and his success have resonated within that community.

 “I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don’t ignore it,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they’re excited their quarterback is an African American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans.”

 Griffin also addressed the persistent stereotyping of African American quarterbacks, saying he hopes his passing ability will set him apart.

 “They’re always going to try to put you in a box with other African American quarterbacks: [Michael] Vick, [Cam] Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon,” Griffin said. “But there are guys like… Warren Moon and Doug Williams who really didn’t run that much. I think that’s the negative stereotype when it comes to African American quarterbacks, that [all they do is] run. But those guys threw it around, and I like to think I can throw it around a little bit. And that’s the goal — not to go out and prove anybody wrong, but just to let your talent speak for itself.”

Click here to read Dave Sheinin’s “Face of the Franchise” series on RGIII’s rookie season.


Dave Sheinin has been covering baseball and writing features and enterprise stories for The Washington Post since 1999.
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