Thursday, July 11, 2013

RG3 Has Revived The Redskins, United DC and May Soon Walk on Water

I’ve wanted to write about Robert Griffin III from the moment the Redskins drafted him. I knew he would be big. I knew he would own this city. I knew he would change the franchise.

But no one could have predicted how much.

So why am I writing about RG3 today? Because I finally found an anecdote to lead with that shows how RG3 has completely taken over this city.

My girlfriend is a pre-school teacher. She can’t talk about RG3 in the classroom. Why? Because if she does, the kids will start chanting. And they won’t stop.

“RG3! RG3! RG3!”

The thought of a bunch of 3- & 4-year olds chanting in unison for a football player who has been in the city for only a year makes my heart melt and gives me goosebumps.

RG3 Griffining Vs the Saints
As a sports fan, you’re always looking for those signs, those little things, that prove sports mean more than they really do. 99.9% of time, it’s not there. Sports are just sports. It’s entertainment. It amuses us the same way Dancing with the Stars or the Bachelorette amuses others. The winning and losing matters very little, except from a very personal happiness point of view. The Redskins making the playoffs didn’t make my rent easier to pay or my credit card debt to go down.

Yet, there are these kids chanting his name like RG3 is a savior or something.

Maybe he is?

Part of the human experience is the things we share. Sports are right up there, especially when it comes to cities, because it’s the easiest thing to talk about it. The metaphorical water cooler has expanded past the literal water cooler in your office but the notion still exists. What do you talk about with someone on a random Tuesday morning? Do you really want to bitch about the humidity again?

Nope, you have RG3.

It’s not like the Redskins dominating the news in D.C. is a new phenomenon. The tenor, though, has changed dramatically. I am by no means a lifelong DMVer – I went to college here and I’ve lived here for the past 2 years, which means I lived here for a grand total of 6 years. It doesn’t take long, however, to realize the Redskins are team A#1. The Nationals and Capitals can fight for the second spot. The Wizards can….well, I think the Wizards are behind the Kastles and DC United. But I digress…

My dad’s good friend lives in Virginia and, unlike me, was born and raised in the DMV. He’s a lifelong Redskins fan. He’s enjoyed the victories and the Super Bowls. He’s dealt with the harshness of a new decade. In particular, he’s had to come to grips with having arguably the worst owner in sports. As he explained to me:

“I want the Redskins to win another Super Bowl. But I can’t picture it because I don’t want to see our (expletive deleted) owner holding that trophy.”

Dan Snyder is no longer Public Enemy #1. Even if he is still a terrible owner. Even if he’s moving the Redskins training camp 4 hours away. Even if the horrible FedEx Field that caused RG3’s knee to explode is on him. Even if the free agent signings are still questionable. Even if his stadium still stinks. Even if the team is still racist.

Dan Snyder is okay. Why? Because he employs RG3.

I have told the following anecdote to just about everyone I’ve met in the past 2 years: I feel like I discovered RG3 first, along with 40,000 other UConn football fans. In September 2008, UConn was actually really good – this was the pre-Gramps era – and on its way to a 5-0 start and Top 25 ranking. Baylor came to East Hartford as a supposed patsy.

Instead, RG3 put up this game. He was incredible. Everyone was asking the person next to them – “Who is this Baylor QB? Where did he come from??” He was just a freshman. He was by far the best player on the field. Only Darius Butler – future NFL DB for UConn – could even remotely keep pace with RG3. You rarely get to see the future of football unfold expectedly right in front of you.

Since that game – UConn won, naturally – I’ve been a huge fan of RG3. I wanted him to succeed. And when he went down with an ACL injury in 2009, I felt that we were going to be deprived of the future of football that I had seen a year earlier.

The best thing about RG3 is how nonchalant the toughest challenge could be. He was never fazed by that injury, and he returned even better. He was never daunted by the challenge of the NFL. He brushed off the naysayers – aka, the whole Black Quarterback thing – leading up to the NFL Draft and throughout his rookie season.

When he went down against the Seahawks in last year’s playoffs, it was like watching a family member get hurt. It was impossible to watch. I want Mike Shanahan tarred, feathered and run out of town for endangering him. I wanted RG3 to be okay. I didn’t want to be sad. I didn’t want to miss out on the future of football.

By all accounts, RG3 is aiming to return for week 1. Based on his history, I have to assume he will.

I want RG3 to be successful. I want him to win a Super Bowl. I want him to end up in the Hall of Fame. I want him to reach his limitless potential. I want him to redefine how the game of football is played.

If he doesn’t, that’s okay. He has already revitalized a franchise and a city.  

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