First and foremost in all things, I am a Giants fan.
However, I have to admit; Robert Griffin III is getting SCREWED.
Let’s go back to January 6th 2013; Robert Griffin III had fully powered-up into ‘RG3’ status; he led Washington to a division title and a playoff game on rugged FedEx turf against the Seattle Seahawks. He was labeled a hero who went down brutally in a valiant effort to win the game for D.C., and the fans went out to crucify the coach at the time, Mike Shanahan for giving RG3 permission to endure more damage to his knee, a move that some argue may have had a hand in Shanahan losing his job.
Let’s go back even further to April 26th 2012, when Washington worked out a 3-way trade with the Cowboys and Rams to get the #2 pick in the draft and secure Robert Griffin III as their future franchise quarterback. It was a trade that involved Washington trading away two draft picks for that year (1st and 2nd) and also first-round draft picks for 2013 and 2014, a trade agreement reminiscent of the Herschel Walker-to-Vikings, in terms of league magnitude. He was absolutely the starting quarterback for that team, without any question or equivocation, come hell or high water that Sunday in the nation’s capital. And up until that fateful night in January 2013, RG3 was proving himself to be a wise investment by the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder.
If only Mike Shanahan had said ‘No mas’ that night…
Now I understand, athletes are supposed to be warriors and Kobe always says ‘play through the pain’, yadda yadda, but coaches (especially grown men, more grown than 21 years of age) are supposed to make decisions against their players’ wishes for their lack of better judgment. This is why we have the concussion protocol in the sport which is so adamant on testing.
I’ll get back to those concussions later…
Anywho, this man is supposed to know what is best for RG3’s CAREER, not for how he performs in just that game. Do you think if Shanahan got who he wanted in the draft; a pure pocket passer (let’s say like an Andrew Luck or Ryan Tanehill) and he wrecked his leg in the first half of a divisional playoff game, that quarterback would even get to sniff the field in the second? HELL to the no. He’d order him to sit out and put in the next guy up because ‘he’s too valuable to the franchise’, and ‘tomorrow you live to fight another day’ and all that other self-preservation side talk (see Jay Cutler).
Unfortunately, that would be the case if Shanahan was even the least bit concerned with the preservation of RG3, but he wasn’t. As previously stated, the coach didn’t want Robert. He never did. Shanahan did the only thing possible to get the next quarterback warming up with the first team, and RG3 off the field:
He fed him to the wolves.
After that playoff game, RG3 hasn’t returned. Only Robert Griffin III remained, bound by a kyptonite knee brace for the following year that restricted him from transforming into his super alter ego and playing as a shell of a man. Also, with no good knee to plant firmly in the ground, throws became inaccurate, weak and floaty. His escapability factor from a year ago was cut in half, and his confidence as a player was broken. Also broken was an overall communication with his head coach, culminating in a messy breakup and Shanahan being fired from the team (although being paid throughout the tenure of his contract).
Now enter Jay Gruden, brother of ESPN favorite Jon, to right the ship of Washington’s ravaged team and to repair the psyche of Robert Griffin III. He did everything but, opening up the starting quarterback position to a 3-way competition. Now, just me talking, but I would rather put most of my eggs in the basket of an individual who won the Heisman in 2012 and in his rookie year, accrued more than 4,000 all purpose yards and only threw 5 interceptions. You would think that would be the type of player Gruden would want to cultivate and continue seeing on a more consistent basis.
None of that took place. Gruden held the quarterback competition like a bad elementary school talent show, awarding the grand prize to the person who screws up the least, rather than one who would rise from the doldrums of mediocrity and undoubtedly take the crown. Then a carousel started to take place in 2014; Griffin. Cousins. Griffin. Cousins. McCoy. Cousins. Wait, what? Yes, Colt McCoy was actually up in that race as well, even though he still looks likes a red shirt freshman back at Texas out there, in terms of mechanics and footwork.
Here we are now, in a brand new shiny year of 2015 and Griffin is ready to get back to work. He arrives to camp with a ‘clean slate’ mentality and even talks himself up in the media saying that he thinks he’s ‘the best quarterback in the league (which I too giggled at, but I understand how the mind has to mentally prepare the body). And what does Gruden do? He sits out his all-star offensive lineman Trent Williams in a preseason game and pits Griffin against the 2nd best pass rush of last year in Detroit with a loose, inexperienced offensive line.
Robert Griffin III dropped back to pass eight times. Only two of those ended in completions and positive yardage.
The other six ended in sacks.
Jay Gruden followed Shanahan’s popular playbook:
He fed him to the wolves.
Technically, he fed Griffin to the Lions, but you get my drift. Now Griffin’s career is finished in Washington; his fans have turned against him and labeled him an NFL bust and his mental fortitude is surely shattered.
To say the least, Jay Gruden’s comments about the play of his quarterbacks have been inconsistent. In the post-game conference after the Lions game Gruden announces that Griffin received a concussion during that game: WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_99RBI_JRg
Three days later in the post-game conference he says that Griffin was doing well in practice and had no signs of having a concussion. Don’t worry; you’ll only have to listen to both clips for two minutes max to see Gruden duplicitous nature: WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fICPympKMy4
Even when an inquiring party asks how the status of Griffin’s health changed so quickly in the span of three days, Gruden said “I have no idea.” You’d think a head coach would be on top of the status of all his quarterbacks, being that he hasn’t decided who the starter is yet. Talk about not getting your ducks in a row.
In the first clip he referred to how he left Robert Griffin III in the Detroit game to ‘get the offense going’, and that Griffin ‘couldn’t get the run game going’. Maybe it’s me but I thought it was offensive linemen who got the running game going (and it’s even harder when your best lineman is on the bench). And even though Robert Griffin III completed passes the only two times he wasn’t pressured, Gruden said nothing about that. In fact, I’ve gone through numerous YouTube clips of Wasington press conferences (which makes me a little ill, being a Giants fan), and I really can’t find one where Gruden says something refreshing about Griffin. Not positive, but refreshing; something new, something motivational when Griffin could actually see a glimmer of support from his head coach going into the new season. No comments like that actually exist from Jay Gruden.
Now let’s go to the wonderful response he gave about Kirk Cousins’ performance against the Giants, where he threw 2 horrible picks after throwing 4 in his last meeting with that team (starting at 5:28): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpSCbRwqu5o
Now if Jay Gruden were to do that same motion while he and I play poker together, I’m folding my hand, because that’s a complete tell. According to him, Kirk played ‘fine’, and there is ‘no quarterback controversy’. What is so controversial, however, is not that Gruden doesn’t have an experienced passer to lead his team; it’s that he doesn’t give that person a fair chance, physically or mentally, to perform at his greatest potential.
I can understand the rub against Robert; the boy does like himself some media. I remember the Subway commercials before Griffin even threw a pass in preseason at training camp, thinking “Who the hell does this guy think he is?” During his first two years with the organization, Griffin’s father was very involved with his dealings with the team, and I could understand how his (and also Griffin’s) vocal grievances must have made it hard for the coaching staff to focus on strictly football matters. Robert Griffin was never the one to shy away from letting his opinion be heard by whoever wanted to hear it, possibly to his own team’s detriment.
Now let’s get a little deeper and talk about Robert Griffin III, the man. He comes from a military family, where he learned discipline from an early age. He is educated and extremely articulate. He is married to a beautiful caucasian woman whom he has dated since college. And most importantly, he is now a malcontent in the system in which he was brought in to correct, and he doesn’t have a problem with telling people what he’s upset about or who he’s upset with.
Back in the day, white people knew of black folks they called “uppity niggers”; black men that dressed and spoke well, who knew how to read and write, and who knew how to take care of their families better than most white men. When angry whites saw this behavior, they would act aggressively to these blacks to “take them down a peg,” or “put him in his place.”
This is a 2009 blog (yes, this was written in 2009) by an individual who says he has put together “the perfect definition of ‘uppity nigger’.” In the piece, he’s referring to our current president. Read as much as you can stomach.
SIDEBAR: You would be astonished by all the racist sites in the world that come up when you type “uppity nigger” in your search bar. Not me, though. Rarely surprised by racism anymore.
SIDEBAR #2: I find it ironic how we’re discussing the possible racist actions of a coaching staff and front office of a team with undoubtedly the most racist name in sports, which I refuse to refer to in this article, and all future articles about this team.
Now I don’t write this to be incendiary or accuse Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden of outright racism. Maybe they don’t even know what they’re doing in their own minds being a product of American upbringing. But the plight of the well-educated Black man has been long documented. A Black man back in the day who was silent, docile and uneducated was not a threat to the white man’s experience in America. It’s when we finally demanded equal rights and treatment; THAT’s when there was a problem in America, according to some. We, as Black men are always being asked to settle; even NOW when unarmed Black kids are getting shot by police officers some white people say things like, “it’s not all racially motivated,” “we have a Black president,” and “can’t you just be happy with what you have?”
Is that what Gruden’s saying? Should Griffin ‘just be happy’ that he’s on the team and he’s getting paid?
Even Chris Rock alluded as to the treatment being racist in a tweet recently:
I don’t know what’s more racist . There logo or there treatment of RG3 pic.twitter.com/aI2zoSHow0
— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) September 25, 2015
While I haven’t fully decided that what’s being done to Robert Griffin III is in fact racist, it is undoubtedly dehumanizing. Dude, if you don’t like the guy, just cut him. And that’s what’s happened to so many other QB’s, white AND Black within the sport; if you’re not good enough, ya go home (unless you’re Tim Tebow. Then you get a shot every year). This never happened to Jason Campbell, or Akili Smith, or Jamarcus Russell even. They were busts and they weren’t publicly humiliated by being relegated to 3rd string benchwarmer. And, quite frankly, Robert Griffin III, when healthy, is a better QB than all those cats combined. However, if you don’t have the belief from your coach that you can be better than what you are, then you have nothing. Knee or no knee. When you take a man’s job, he can get another job. When you take a man’s belief in himself as a productive individual who makes an impact on this planet Earth, you take away his spirit and his reason to live.
And no matter the job, it’s ISN’T right.
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