Robert Griffin III entered the locker room at Redskins Park late Wednesday afternoon, backpack over his shoulder and lunch in hand inside a plastic container. As he approached his dressing area, a horde of media members began surrounding the quarterback in anticipation of Griffin’s reaction to Coach Jay Gruden benching the 2012 No. 2 overall pick in favor of Colt McCoy.
Reporters asked Griffin for a moment of his time. He kindly replied that those requests first needed to be cleared through Tony Wyllie, the Washington Redskins’ senior vice president for communications. In that brief exchange, Griffin provided no indication he objected to speaking.
Wyllie subsequently informed the media that Griffin would not be issuing any statements, indicating later he perhaps would do so next week. Griffin then left the locker room briefly, and it remained unclear whether it was his wish not to speak to reporters about his playing situation or if he was not permitted to talk.
“He’s not speaking,” Wyllie said, without clarifying who was making the decision.
Later it was, “No means no.”
Griffin and Wyllie spent a few minutes immediately outside the doors to the locker room talking privately, presumably to reconsider if Griffin would be answering questions.
Shortly after re-entering the locker room, Wyllie said: “It’s his decision.”
Then Griffin came in and out of the locker room multiple times. Before departing for good, Griffin spoke with reporters about, among other topics, his Thanksgiving plans and the composite-toe shoes he was wearing. But nothing about being benched for a third-round pick who’s on his third team in five years with a career record of 7-15 as a starter.
Just another bizarre episode for a franchise that’s all but cornered the market on the absurd.
“I mean, you’ve got to prepare yourself for it, and just know what to say and what not to say,” wide receiver Santana Moss, in his 14th season in the NFL, said of another round of peculiar circumstances in Ashburn. “Everybody wants that one punch line that you can have, that one little thing that someone said about someone, and it is what it is.
“I’ve been here long enough. I’ve been in New York [with the Jets], so I know how it goes, and we’ve just got to give you all what you want, and at the same time not too much,” Moss continued with a chuckle. “That’s what I do. I just try to give you all enough. You all need a story. You all have a job, just like we all have a job. You hate to offend anybody because no one wants to be talked about or looked at wrong. Just give what you need, and don’t get blown out of proportion.”
It would have been nearly impossible to do that in the aftermath of Gruden’s conference call in which he said it was his “intent” to start Griffin Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. The first-year coach made those comments less than 24 hours after Griffin threw for 109 yards on 11-for-19 passing in a 17-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers during which he was sacked five times.
Gruden spoke with all three Redskins’ quarterbacks, including backup turned starter turned third-stringer Kirk Cousins, Tuesday, at which time he revealed McCoy would be making his second start this season. McCoy’s only other start yielded a 20-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on “Monday Night Football” in which he completed 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards and rushed for one touchdown.
The rest of the team officially learned of Gruden’s decision Wednesday during a meeting, but by that time, news of Griffin’s benching had become public knowledge.
“I don’t know how it got out, but unfortunately it got out,” Gruden said. “I was asleep when I got the 14,000 texts. Unfortunately, in a big market like this, things like this are going to get out, and that’s just the way it is. I’ve accepted that. I don’t want there to be any moles or anything like that, but agents, players’ wives, family members, they talk, and they have everybody on Twitter accounts now, so it’s hard to keep secrets nowadays.”
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