- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2015


There were two comments recently made by Washington sports figures that have generated attention and some emotional responses.

There were the comments by Nationals manager Matt Williams, in the midst of a three-game sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, on their way to a six-game losing streak and falling below .500, when a reporter asked Williams if his team — the preseason favorite to win the World Series — had hit rock bottom.

“We’re still in the hunt,” he responded.

Then there were the comments in an interview with Robert Griffin III aired by WJLA-Ch. 7 in which the quarterback declared his greatness or his desire for greatness, depending on which interpreter of his remarks has opted to carry Griffin’s water these days.

“I don’t feel like I have to come out here and show anybody anything or why I’m better than this guy or better than that guy. It’s more about going out and affirming that for me, I go out and I play, I know I’m the best quarterback on this team … I feel like I’m the best quarterback in the league and I have to go out and show that. Any athlete at any level, if they concede to someone else, they’re not a top competitor, they’re not trying to be the best that they can be. There’s guys in this league that have done way more than me, but I still view myself as the best because that’s what I work toward every single day.”

The RG3 comments are by far the most ridiculous. Those who defend him by claiming the context of his comments said something other than “I am great and I know it” should be honest enough to point out that the “context” for any Griffin comments began several years ago — perhaps in March 2013, when he declared in a text message, “I know where my responsibility is within the dilemma that led to me having surgery to repair my knee and all parties involved know their responsibilities as well.”

Or maybe it began when in April 2014 when, in speaking to The Washington Post, Griffin said, “As a quarterback, my identity is I am the leader of this team, I am the guy that everybody looks to when things are going bad. I am the guy that delivers. I am the guy that everyone on the team offense, defense, special teams — when it’s crunch time, they’re not looking at Trent Williams, they’re not looking at Alfred Morris. They’re looking at Robert Griffin III and that is an identity and position I accept. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe, nobody else will, and that’s what I do for the guys around me, for my family. I give them that belief that at the end of the day, things are going to work out, and I don’t think their belief is misplaced, even with us being 3-13 last year. We will be a better football team this year. That is my identity.”

Then again, maybe the context began when, following his affirmation of greatness in a 27-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last November, Griffin said, “I’m looking myself in the mirror and saying, I can do better. I have to do better. I need every man in that locker room, players and coaches, to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’”

Come on. This guy lost the benefit of context a long time ago. Everything he says is connected to everything he has said, with one delusional comment after another. And, of the two comments — his and Williams‘ “still in the hunt” — Griffin’s is more absurd. Williams is right. The Nationals are still in the hunt.

Yet, based on anecdotal and social media evidence, the reaction by Washington sports fans to Williams‘ comments has been far more angry. In fact, the reaction to the Nationals’ disappointing season has been filled with anger for a team that has reached the postseason two of the last three years.

Let’s face it, they’d be holding a parade down Loudoun County Parkway if the Redskins made the playoffs two out of three seasons.

Part of the anger is a football mentality fan base trying to consume baseball. A good Nationals team will lose 72 games a season. That’s a lot of losing to watch.

But what I think is at the root of the anger is the resentment that the Nationals have not been the saving grace Washington sports fans had expected. A fan base that has been beaten down by embarrassment and failure much of the time by its sports teams — including the Wizards and the Stanley Cup-less, Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals — thought they finally had a team to be proud of, a team where things went right, not wrong. They had the experts backing them up: Washington Nationals, World Series champions.

The baseball team was supposed to be the life raft sent to save Washington sports fans. But right now, it’s taking water and sinking — and everyone is angry about putting their faith in a leaky boat. The ship has already sunk on Griffin.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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