Robert Griffin III didn’t back down despite the firestorm that he sparked when he said during a recent television interview that he feels like he is the best quarterback in the NFL. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, Griffin maintained his goal and criticized the media for using his words for click bait.
“So, addressing what happened yesterday with the firestorm that took off with what I said, I know what I meant,” Griffin said following Tuesday’s practice. “I think everyone in this circle knows what I meant. And it’s unfortunate that my name keeps getting used for headlines, for people to click on stories. I know what I want to be and I know what I strive to be. I’m not going to make any apologies for that. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Griffin made the statement at the start of an interview with a scrum of reporters. From there, the quarterback, under the instructions of team public relations chief Tony Wyllie, answered questions pertaining only to Thursday’s preseason game against Detroit, and the progress he and his teammates have worked toward during training camp.
Griffin again expressed confidence that the Redskins are headed in the right direction, and said his goal for Thursday’s game is to continue to improve upon the timing and chemistry with his receivers.
Meanwhile, coach Jay Gruden said that he didn’t take exception to Griffin’s comments.
“I didn’t make a lot out of it. You guys did,” the coach said when asked how he perceived the comments. “I think all players want to strive to be the best. That doesn’t change. DeSean Jackson said he’s uncoverable. Whether he is or he’s not, that’s how he feels, and Robert has high goals for himself. I don’t fault anyone who has high goals for themselves. You don’t want anyone who strives to be average. But the key thing he said is he’s got to go out and prove it. We all have got to go out and prove it.”
Griffin struggled last preseason, his first in Gruden’s offense, and then he missed six games early in the season after dislocating an ankle. The quarterback never managed to find comfort in the offense or execute at a high level. He was benched late in the season and then returned to start the final two games once Colt McCoy got hurt.
Griffin was named the starter in February despite his uneven play, and he has maintained a belief that he can recapture the magic from his rookie season. That’s how he should think, Gruden said.
“I just thought it was a guy who had high hopes for himself and his performance and his career as a starting quarterback in the NFL,” Gruden said. “I think when he was drafted No. 2 out of Baylor and he came here and had a rookie of the year performance, I think everybody thought he could be a top-notch quarterback in the NFL. I don’t think he’s wavered in that confidence factor. He’s just got to go out and prove it and stay healthy, No. 1, and go out and continue to play. But, the whole thing about great quarterbacks and the top-notch quarterbacks is they’re durable and they do it game in and game out. And he’s got to do his best to perform.”
Griffin’s teammates said the comments didn’t rub them the wrong way, either.
“You have to think you’re the best, continue to work hard to be the best and go out there and prove it every day,” wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. “Nobody has to agree with you. You just have to believe in yourself and work hard. … I’m happy that he feels that way. Hopefully, we keep playing better and keep getting better and as an offense, we can help him prove that.”
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