There is no doubt that Robert Griffin III is an incredible football talent. There is no doubt in my mind that he has the talent to lift an NFL franchise from being a perennial loser to the greatest team in the world. While Robert has struggled with his quarterback play this season, I am sure he will bounce back. Sophomore players struggle all the time. Robert had missed the entire Redskins offseason program and had to rehab from a major knee injury. His struggles are hardly surprising in hindsight. But Robert Griffin III has one major problem he needs to gain control of before he can realize his full potential: RG3.
Now, that may sound like gibberish, so allow me to explain. When I write articles on this site and I write about Robert Griffin III, I almost never refer to him as RG3. I write out his name, call him Robert, or even Griffin III on occasion. But not RG3. While RG3 is succinct and recognizable, I see the abbreviation as something besides harmless shorthand.
Robert Griffin III came into this league as a superstar. As a superstar of the NFL, there are some nice opportunities to market and gain financial benefits. As we can see from Robert’s Adidas and Subway commercials, he has taken advantage of these opportunities. But Roberts marketing is a bit unusual from other sports superstars. Tiger Woods has Nike and just about every NBA star has shoes, but Robert is different. Robert’s situation is different, because he is his own brand. RG3, what was once a simple nickname at Baylor, has become a National icon that has a juggernaut marketing machine. So, when I see Robert Griffin III, I think of the talented, high character, and smart young man that plays quarterback for my Washington Redskins. When I think of RG3, I think of the enormous sum of money that he (and others) can make off of his brand.
The reason I avoid using RG3 is because I believe the nickname dehumanizes Robert Griffin III. When someone says RG3, all of the expectations that come with the media attention make it easy to forget that Robert Griffin III is the person that has to live up to all of the hype. I write out Robert Griffin III because I believe it is important that we all remember that he is more than the marketing creation of RG3. While it may seem like a bit much to some to distinguish Robert Griffin III from RG3, RG3’s media attention has had an impact on the team.
While most of the Redskins current struggles have more to do with the egos of Mike Shanahan and Dan Snyder, Robert has had a role in this mess. His major campaign in the offseason, "All In For Week 1," may have been the biggest problem. While Robert Griffin III said at the time he was going to do what was best for him and the team, RG3 had already made an impact. RG3 created so much pressure: pressure on Robert, pressure on the coaches, and pressure on the team to repeat their 2012 success. The campaign became too big too fast. While many were advocating for patience and expecting Robert not to start Week 1, RG3 struck again with an ESPN special. Robert had a video catalogue of his recovery from his ACL surgery, and a film was released before the season started. The "All In For Week 1" campaign and his ESPN film left the impression that Robert was healthy and ready to play in the 2013 season.
When RG3’s media circus continued to create hype and make money, Robert Griffin III struggled on the field. The problem with high expectations and hype comes in when you cant live up to it. Robert Griffin III was put into a very tough pressured situation, and a lot of that was because of RG3. It is possible that this situation created tension with the coaches, his teammates, and the Redskins organization. It was near impossible for Robert Griffin III to play like he did in 2012 after missing a crucial offseason and rehabilitating a serious injury. It is possible that Robert’s teammates may resent him for creating media pressure and then not playing as well as he did in 2012. While there is pressure on Robert Griffin III to play well, there is also pressure on Robert Griffin III to maintain the RG3 hype machine. Many benefit from the attention created by RG3, including the NFL, Dan Snyder, and the members of the media who report on him. While the creation of RG3 is not entirely Robert Griffin III’s fault, only Robert can fix this problem. Robert has to find the balance between RG3, the fame, and Robert Griffin III, the great football player.
I believe the best thing for Robert Griffin III is for RG3 to have a quiet offseason. I hope Robert has learned about the pressure RG3 is capable of creating. I hope next season that Robert will come back (hopefully into a better coaching situation) and show this organization, show his teammates, and show his fans that he has grown. I hope this organization can do a better job of supporting Robert than it has so far. I hope that Robert will come back a better player after his struggles this season and show us that he can manage RG3, the hype machine. I hope that he meets his full potential as Robert Griffin III, the great football player and leader of the Washington Redskins.