Robert Griffin III is the Tonic That an Ailing League Needed

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

 

It’s difficult to dispute the popularity of the NFL, the model of all professional sports leagues. But to say that the NFL hasn’t taken it’s share of lumps over recent years is just not seeing the forest for the trees. Between the issues surrounding traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and discipline issues for players, coaches and organizations, the NFL has looked like a league of gangsters trying to police themselves at times.

Sometimes, without it even being planned, the right person comes along at just the right time. A person who seemingly can set things right, and restore the public faith in a league that was slowly sliding down a path of internal destruction.

Robert Griffin III is just that person.

The Washington Redskins quarterback has captured the imagination of fans all over the league, and has re-energized the languishing fan base in the Washington DC area.

When RGIII attended the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony in New York last year, he wowed everyone with his obvious intelligence, and his infectious smile and personality…and let’s not forget those socks. I’m not sure that anyone else on the planet could get away with wearing Superman socks with little capes on them. But the jury is still out on whether or not he’s actually from this planet.

The Redskins made their first intelligent move in decades by trading up in the draft to go out and get the Heisman Trophy winner to become the face and cornerstone of their franchise. And now he has them sitting pretty as division champions.

But RGIII and his bravado are about much more than the Redskins. This kid is doing more to help Roger Goodell fix the image of the No Fun League than a thousand fines and penalties thrown down with an iron fist could ever do.

Seriously, have you listened to RG3 talk a press conferences? He answers every question without regurgitated prefabricated canned schlock. He’s honest and bold, but not to the point of being cocky or arrogant. In every word he utters, you still get a sense of humility and awe for this game from him.

Just days before his first ever NFL playoff game, Griffin was inducing shenanigans and hijinks at a press conference, pranking his normally stone-faced head coach Mike Shanahan and even getting a chuckle and smile out of him. Rookies don’t do that, do they?

The NFL has suffered through players using PEDs, inexplicatble DUIs, murder-suicides, intoxicated manslaughter, bounties being placed on the heads of opponents, coaches scandals, and lawsuits from previous players in regards to TBI.

And that’s just in the last 12 months.

If you don’t think that having a guy like Robert Griffin III on the payroll and in front of the cameras isn’t deflecting interest from some of those problems and hasn’t helped to polish the tarnish off the precious NFL shield, then you aren’t paying attention.

The problem for Goodell is going to quickly become keeping this Superhero in burgundy and gold healthy and playing for many years to come. In just his first season Griffin has suffered a concussion that was so severe he didn’t even remember part of the game in which it was played, and a knee injury that had him sidelined for a few weeks and has surgeon to the stars Dr. James Andrews very concerned about him playing on it.

Griffin plays with a reckless all-out style and gives little regard to his body when it means the difference in a win or loss for his team. He says he’s learning, but some things are just naturally engrained into a person’s psyche, and can’t be unlearned. Griffin won’t be able to withstand the type of punishment he’s taken this season and have much in the way of a long NFL career.

Player safety is what Roger Goodell professes to be most concerned about. It’s time for those words to translate into something tangible, because without RGIII, the Redskins aren’t playing in the postseason this year, and the NFL is missing a crucial part of it’s image rehabilitation.

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Michael Collins is a Rant Sports NFL and MLB Network Manager, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter and here on Facebook


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