Washington Redskins: Is Robert Griffin III A Competitor Or A Commercial Pitchman?

By James Williams
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins are headed into their bye week, and one national publication is about to take aim at the face of the franchise – Robert Griffin, III. Howard Bryant, the well respected writer for ESPN The Magazine, is about to publish a story where the question is asked if RGIII is indeed more hype than talent?

Reading an advance copy of Bryant’s story there are a number of conclusions drawn that simply are either not fair to Robert Griffin III or prone to speculation. Allow me to share this small except with you from Bryant’s story:

“The marketing contrivance has collided with the cold truth: The great RG3, whose career is composed of one magical season and exactly one playoff game, is more commercial than competitor.”

My problem with except above and the story in general is that Bryant is basing the vast majority of his article  on a very small sample of data. We are talking about less than a year and that includes almost eight months of down time due to an injured knee. The 2013 version of the Washington Redskins with RGIII is pretty much what any person who has followed football as long as Bryant has should have seen coming.

Unless, of course, you were buying the hype that RGIII could simply step onto an NFL field after having extensive knee surgery, not playing a down in the preseason, and still play at the same level as last season. Then I have a bridge to sell you. We are now at Week 5 of the season, and after looking rusty Washington’s franchise quarterback is showing signs of the player that took the team to NFC East title last season. He knee seems to bother him less each game that he plays. After the bye week Washington goes on the road to face the Dallas Cowboys. Then we will see how far RGIII has really progressed.

Can RGIII move product?

You bet he can. He sells jerseys, sandwiches, sports drinks, and other items at the moment too numerous to mention. Do the Redskins and the NFL want see him succeed? You bet they do. He is an athlete, who is intelligent, plays by the rules, is a wonderful role model and can also play the game. When he is healthy RGIII can play at the highest level of the sport. So there is in fact no reason why you can’t be both a commercial spokesman and a star player. It actually works best when you have the talent, otherwise the ad spots aren’t offered to you.

If RGIII is truly a success or a failure in the NFL can’t be measured in the 17 games he has played in thus far. If over the next three to five years he is unable to lead Washington to multiple playoff appearances and NFC East titles because his play is subpar, then yes, it is fair to ask the question about hype over substance.

So, while I have the greatest respect for Howard Bryant and the publication (I do recommend that you read his story for yourself) that he works for, I am going have respectfully disagree with him on RGIII. You simply can’t judge his talent yet; it is way too early in his career for that type evaluation.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and add him to your Google circles.

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