Robert Griffin III is on the cover of “Sports Illustrated.” He’s the story of the moment in the NFL. That’s why on Wednesday the Washington Redskins quarterback fielded questions about “Griffining” and the sleeve he wears on his left arm.
“Who would’ve thought getting knocked on your butt and throwing a touchdown would start a phenomenon like that? But it is what it is. Griffining, RG3 and whatever they want to call it, I’m not opposed to it,” he said. “People are going to have fun with what they’re going to have fun with and I’m not going to stop them.”
Griffin won’t stop fans from whatever kind of hype they’re building up over his NFL debut, in which he threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns and earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. But he and the Redskins aren’t trying to make it into more than it is.
“Let’s not get carried away with all this, this is the first game,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “It’s a growing experience. Each game you’re going to experience different things. It’s part of the maturation process that he’s going to have some highs and some lows. It’s just the nature of the game.”
The nature of the game off the football field is different. Griffin won the Heisman Trophy and stars in commercials, but this historic debut put him in the forefront of sports conversation.
He hasn’t avoided television, so Griffin has heard some things, but he prides himself on some semblance of tunnel vision.
“I try to stay away from everything, don’t read too much into anything,” Griffin said. “I know a couple of y’all asked London [Fletcher] how do you try to stay grounded after you have a game like that. You just don’t read anything. You don’t listen to it. So I’ve kind of just stayed away from it.”
Wednesday, he did his best to deflect credit and attention for fans being downright giddy after Sunday’s victory at the New Orleans Saints.
“I don’t think it’s just because of me. … I think they’re excited about this team, what this team has to offer,” he said. “I feel good about the excitement about this team, and I think the team feels good about itself just with the way we performed last week and we’ve got to continue to carry that on.”
“He played a good game. I thought he handled himself well,” the Redskins‘ coach said. “I was really pleased with the way he handled himself in that type of atmosphere and hopefully he can keep it going.”
He will have to try to do so as opposing defenses see film of him and adjust to the Redskins‘ zone read schemes. And while answering questions well beyond football, such as what’s the strangest phone messages he has received.
All the while Griffin smiles and takes it in stride.
“Some jeweler got my number; I don’t know how he got my number, and he just sends me pictures of jewelry all the time,” he said. “I’m not a jewelry guy, though.”
What Griffin tries to be is a focused guy. He said he moved on to thinking about the St. Louis Rams on Monday morning.
And he doesn’t think a record-setting debut will create even loftier expectations.
“Rex [Grossman] kind of told me after the game, he said I set the bar high and I’ve got to continue to go up,” Griffin said. “But to me it doesn’t put any pressure on me; it just solidifies what I’ve always thought: that I can play in the NFL at a high level and this team can be successful with the coaches that we have and the players that we have.”