- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2013


For eight months and three days, Robert Griffin III waited.

Through the tear-soaked realization in January his right anterior cruciate had been repaired for the second time.

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Through the Gatorade-soaked rehabilitation that Dr. James Andrews called “superhuman,” all recorded in a fawning ESPN documentary that listed Griffin as an executive producer.

Through passive-aggressive back-and-forth with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, waged with anonymous sources and dodged press conference questions and unusual gestures like the quarterback suiting up for the first preseason game last month despite not playing.

Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) recovers a fumble by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) in the endzone for  a safety in the first quarter as the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles in Monday Night NFL football at FedExField, Landover, Md., Monday, September 9, 2013. (Dan Decook / For The Washington Times)
Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) recovers a fumble by Washington ... more >

All that led to 7:33 p.m. Monday when the expectant chants of “R-G-3! R-G-3!” merged into a single voice at FedEx Field. So many of Griffin’s maroon No. 10 jerseys and T-shirts filled the stands that any other number as looked out of place as the occasional Eagles pullover. The one-man highlight reel, aided by a right knee brace tucked under his gold pants after orders from the NFL, was back under center.

The wait ended.

And then Griffin didn’t look superhuman. Instead, he looked like a second-year player months removed from a major knee injury who watched the four preseason games from the sideline. The preseason hype about a deep run into the postseason and hope about what wonders Griffin would work next disappeared. In their place stood the quarterback who needed three quarters — though he swore that wasn’t the case — to knock off the rust.

But Griffin doesn’t believe in rust. Or the impact of not playing in the preseason. Or adjusting to the game’s speed.

“I think that’s an excuse,” he said. “I’m responsible for the way I play. I didn’t play very well in the first half. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m rusty.”

The first play? Alfred Morris took a handoff and fumbled the ball away.

Long before kickoff, Griffin jogged onto the field and flashed his made-for-television smile. Seven cameras followed each move. He jab-stepped past an equipment man a few yards from the spot where he chased an errant snap in January and his knee gave out. Anticipation rippled through each step.

The fourth play? Griffin floated the ball down the middle of the field into triple coverage. The pass had no chance to find the veteran hands of Santana Moss. Instead, Brandon Boykin snatched the gift from the air.

Television cameras caught Griffin’s pregame exhortation to the rest of the team. He insisted the game wasn’t about him. That wasn’t true, of course. Every snap, every decision, every moment came back to the 23-year-old the franchise is constructed around.

The seventh play? Backed deep in their own territory, the quarterback flung a lazy pitch to Morris. The ball, once again, skittered from the running back’s hands. He fell on in the end zone. The Eagles had a safety.

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