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RG3 fits the mold of selfless competitor
I spent an afternoon with Robert Griffin III back in December and came away very impressed with the young man.
Mere hours before receiving the Heisman Trophy, he was calm, cool and humble. I asked him about what winning the Heisman would mean to him and his family, and he deflected the question entirely.
It wasn’t about him, he insisted. It was about Baylor football. It was about the program. Right answer. This was before he had a “team” of handlers, before Adidas gave him a multi-million dollar shoe contract and before the sports media drooled over his eclectic sock collection.
Griffin was recruited to play for Art Briles at Houston. When Briles made the decision to leave Houston for Baylor and the Big 12 prior to the start of the 2008 season, he nervously called his prized high school recruit to see if he’d be willing to come with him.
“Coach Briles promised me the shot at the starting quarterback job when no one else really would,” he told me that day. “I was coming with him. It wasn’t really even a question.”
In March, he made the trip to San Antonio to cheer the Baylor women’s basketball team on in the NCAA Championship Game. He just sat in the stands, like a fan, cheering his friends and classmates on.
I bring this all up in the wake of Bob McGinn’s Twitter-shattering article on Griffin today, which included a quote from an anonymous scout from an anonymous team saying:
"He's got a little bit of a selfish streak. Everybody was laying on Cam (Newton), but for some reason this guy has become gloves off. He doesn't treat anybody good."
The scout continues, "As much as is written about his athleticism, his athleticism under duress in the pocket isn't even close to Cam Newton's. This guy, the only way he gets big plays with his feet is if he's got a wide-open field and the sea opens for him."
Another scout interviewed by McGinn questioned the hype around Griffin, referring to "a lot of bad tape."
"Everybody is just assuming because of the Heisman and the socks and all that BS ... they are ignoring a lot of bad tape that he's had," the scout said. "I don't think he has vision or pocket feel, which to me are the two most important components of quarterbacking. He's just running around winging it. He's (Michael) Vick, but not as good a thrower."
Griffin may have changed a lot since winning the Heisman Trophy. Being put on the cover of a video game, ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated could do a lot to a young man’s head. There’s a chance he’s become an uncontrollable egomaniac who treats anonymous scouts from anonymous teams “no good” (it’s “well”, not "good," but that’s neither here nor there).
But I doubt it.
The above quotes from “Scout John Doe X” and “Scout John Doe Y” are just more examples of the absurdity of the NFL Draft process. After picking and prodding at someone for three months, you’re going to likely find someone somewhere who doesn’t like what he sees. Some scout is bound to say, “he doesn’t treat anybody good” or criticize your sock collection at some point.
Cam Newton, if you recall, had a “fake smile” last year. And he “couldn’t adjust to a pro offense right away”. I think Newton worked out fairly well in Year 1. There were questions about Matt Ryan’s arm. Even Peyton Manning, back in 1998, fought the label of being “unpopular in the locker room” and “unable to win big games.”
Before reading into their comments too much, I’d question the motives of said Scout X and said Scout Y. Which teams do they work for? Would anonymously criticizing Griffin benefit said teams in any way? I’d also like the track record of said scouts. If they’re willing to go on record — without their names, of course — I’d at least like to know what makes their opinions any more valid than the dozens of other scouts I’ve spoken to who love Robert Griffin III as a player, leader, and person.
In 2010, Chris Pettit, a scout for the Giants, saw potential in a kid at the team’s local workout. The player wasn’t one of the 320 players invited to the combine or listed on Mike Mayock’s top 100 prospect list, but Pettit saw a guy who could make an impact if given the opportunity. Though he went undrafted, Pettit went to bat for his guy and the Giants eventually offered Victor Cruz a contract and an invite to their training camp.
There are stories like that all over the league.
Gimme Scout John Doe X and Scout John Doe Y’s “Chris Pettit/Victor Cruz” stories and maybe I’ll value their disparaging remarks on RG3 a bit more.
It’s easy to knock these kids behind closed doors and in muffled tones.
If you look at a painting long enough, you’ll start to find flaws.
And trust me, Robert Griffin III is a masterpiece.