Quarterback Robert Griffin III is not on an NFL roster these days. He appears to have far too much time on his hands, given that he was using some of it to conduct a very public feud with a former Washington Redskins teammate, wide receiver Santana Moss.
This is not to take sides on right and wrong here. Responding to comments by Moss that Griffin had delighted in the firing of Mike Shanahan as the coach of the Redskins, Griffin took to social media to defend himself and to criticize Moss for what Griffin regarded as a betrayal.
There is plenty of blame to go around for the unraveling of the relationship between Griffin and Shanahan following the wondrous 2012 season in which Griffin was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year and took the Redskins to the playoffs. That needn’t be rehashed here. And it didn’t need to be rehashed by Moss or anyone else at this point.
But Griffin should have simply let it go. Any NFL team that would consider signing Griffin at this point would do so with him being a No. 2 or a No. 3 quarterback in mind. He’s not going anywhere as a starter. But no team wants a second- or third-string quarterback who cannot coexist peacefully with coaches and teammates, and who might take to social media to settle scores and create a minor uproar in the process.
“That doesn’t help him,” a former NFL front office executive said.
The notion of the dreaded locker room “distraction” is mindless coach-speak. It’s silly to believe that grown men cannot go about their business because they might be asked a question about something one of their teammates did. But NFL coaches believe in it. NFL teams believe in it. And they avoid distractions at all costs when a player’s on-field talents do not outweigh the threat that distraction presents.
Look at Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed. He actually has taken a team to a Super Bowl, unlike Griffin. He actually had a reasonably productive 2016 season, unlike Griffin. He can’t get a quarterbacking job in the league. Griffin is doing himself no favors.
Colin Kaepernick still being unemployed is a bad look for the NFL, no matter what you think of his anthem protests
The feeling here when the Cleveland Browns gave up on Griffin after last season, after the Redskins gave up on Griffin a year earlier, was that Griffin was not out of NFL chances. He perhaps was out of starting quarterback opportunities. But surely someone would give him one last chance to recapture his rookie-year magic, right?
It hasn’t happened. Griffin has remained unsigned. There was a workout with the Los Angeles Chargers. But the Chargers instead traded for Cardale Jones. Maybe their workout with Griffin, which was said at the time to have gone well, was legitimate. Maybe it just was a tactic to help nudge along the trade for Jones. But Griffin remains on the outside of the sport, looking in.
He is only 27 years old. He should have productive years left in the game. He has been not just a good NFL player in the past. He once was a dominant NFL player. It once appeared he would transform the way the position was played. Few can say they have reached that level of NFL success, even briefly.
But his downfall has been epic. He has not demonstrated he can make the transition from prospering in the gimmick offense of his rookie season with the Redskins to being able to thrive as a more traditional NFL pocket passer. He has not been able to remain healthy and in the lineup. He has not provided evidence he can avoid drama like this week’s dust-up with Moss. Is this a big deal? No. But it’s enough to tilt the odds of returning to the NFL further against Griffin.
Remember when Andrew Luck was going to be the NFL’s next big thing and he and the Colts had such a bright future?
The NFL’s 2012 quarterback class — headlined by Andrew Luck, Griffin, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson — once seemed destined for all-time greatness. That no longer seems to be the case. For Griffin, the goal now should be merely finding his way back to the NFL and having a quiet, modest career of which he can be proud in a resilient, workmanlike way. There should be no thoughts of future stardom, and there certainly should be no public discussion of why things have gone wrong to this point. It’s time for Griffin to start helping himself, if it’s not too late already.
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