I hate the fact that this back-and-forth between what Robert Griffin III says and Mike Shanahan is getting to the level of controversy, but it does seem to be there. I know most Redskins fans would like to believe that this is manufactured and a media invention, but the quotes and sound bites are undeniable. Right now it looks pretty clear that coach and player are on two different pages in the offseason playbook.
Now I don’t believe this is some major rift between Shanahan and RGIII or do I believe it is yet to the point that it could cause problems in the locker room. What I think it is though is simply ridiculous, and an unneeded distraction for this team. As long as Griffin puts out these statements which are on the edge of being unprofessional and even downright disrespectful to coach Shanahan, this will continue to grow as a media story and it will get to the point where every other player is asked about it. Griffin said earlier in this preseason that he would stop the showing off to fans at training camp if it bothered anyone of his teammates, why is he not maintaining a similar stance in regards to his press answers?
Now I know Redskins fans don’t want to hear that Griffin is on the line of being unprofessional and disrespectful, but it is hard to argue otherwise. Look just about every player wants to play and get out there on the field after an injury, so I don’t fault that with Griffin at all. Where I do think he’s in the wrong is his how he presents this. Repeatedly making the statement that he is doing everything that is asked of him, and they (i.e. Mike Shanahan) need to honor their agreement, is well bizarre to say the least. Saying that he wants to play in the 3rd preseason game and wants to convince the coaches to make it a yes is simply ridiculous. Finally, publicly mocking the “plan” and saying he doesn’t understand it, is pretty disrespectful. Here is my breakdown on each of these points
I get that Griffin may not like the idea of this plan to be cautious and take things slow, but it is 100% reasonable. Griffin is at the bare minimum recovery period for a first ACL reconstruction, and a ridiculous pace for a revision surgery. It is absolutely natural for the team to be careful with working Griffin back into game shape, by limiting his reps and waiting awhile to get to 11-on-11 work. Though Griffin may feel that he is good enough to go, he’s also smart enough to know that it is very likely a confirmation bias for him. He’s feeling what he wants to feel and ignoring the risk and potential setbacks. Now it is not his job to know his health, but Griffin shouldn’t mock or questions those who’s job it is to protect him. Let’s not forget that Griffin said he was healthy enough to go back in versus the Ravens, and thought his knee was healed enough to convince the coaches to let him warm-up for the Browns game, as opposed to resting his knee.
Asking to play in the third preseason game is basically the same as if Griffin said he believes he should return punts and kicks. It is such a non-starter that it really shouldn’t even have been mentioned. It’s one thing for Griffin to say I absolutely wish I could be out there with my teammates and it is hard to sit on the sidelines. That to me is fine and normal for a hyper competitive player. But to just come out and suggest that it is some goal, or that you are really trying to convince the coaching staff otherwise is completely unnecessary. The only thing it accomplished was it forced Mike Shanahan to respond to a question that he’s addressed long before. Shanahan also elaborated that Dr. Andrews recommended that Griffin not play in preseason. That is something that Griffin would clearly know, meaning that Griffin is not just now going against the coaching plan, but doctors orders. That is just absolutely ridiculous and really somewhat immature.
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Finally this whole “bargain” thing presumably between him and Mike Shanahan, where Griffin keeps implying that some promise was made to him about playing week one. This is absolutely crazy, why should there have been a need for any sort of bargain/contract/promise to be made? Had Mike Shanahan not promised that he would play week 1, would Griffin not be working as hard in recovery? Does that mean you were considering not playing this year if you weren’t guaranteed a chance for week 1? What exactly was bargained here? The Redskins are already taking an extremely aggressive approach in Griffin’s recovery, if they feel the need to slow it down that is there prerogative as they look to protect their investment and future. That is based on the only contract that has been agreed upon by both parties, not some vague promise. Even if there was some serious discussion, where Mike Shanahan (or some other Redskins official) gave you their word that you would have a chance at the opening game, why are you airing that in public? Was that allowed in the promise agreement? Did you say you will wear your shoulder pads in a preseason game you aren’t playing in? Or call out your coach in press conferences? If there was any sort of real agreement, those types of actions would likely make it null and void. Even in a general social contract between player and coach, those are the types of things you don’t do. Griffin just needs to do his job and not question his coach or air these issues. They serve no purpose and really are a distraction from the real issues.
Now I know this sounds like I’m being really harsh on RGIII, but I believe if Griffin wants to be treated like a leader, he should act like it. I don’t “hate” Griffin nor am I trying to make something out of nothing. I’m simply saying that he’s walking a very fine line, and if this was just about any other quarterback he would have lost the fan base due to comments like this. Finally this also should serve as a wake-up call for Griffin on how is comments are being perceived and how he can fix them.