ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Remember those days last year at training camp when Robert Griffin III would say one thing, then Mike Shanahan would say just the opposite?
If those days were confusing for fans, imagine what they were like for the Washington Redskins quarterback. Eventually, Griffin requested that the order of the news conferences be reversed so that coach and QB would stop contradicting each other.
”You want to always be on the same page with the head coach, and whatever head coach says, that’s what the players are saying,” Griffin said. ”It got to a point where I needed to talk after coach because I didn’t know what was going on.
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”There was the time I came out and said I’d be able to practice the next day, and then coach came out and said I wasn’t practicing for another day. I didn’t know what was going on, and that’s just the way it is. And whatever decisions the coach makes, that’s what you go with. He’s the boss.”
2013 was a year of losing and confusion for the Redskins and Griffin, and the club’s franchise player is eager to put the calamity behind him under new coach Jay Gruden. He spoke to The Associated Press on Friday as part of a blitzkrieg of interviews heading into the start of on-field workouts next week. He was accompanied by his wife, Rebecca, who brought him a lunchtime burrito to help him get through the long day that also included plans to attend the Washington Wizards playoff game.
But first there was some underbrush to clear from an ugly 3-13 season, when Griffin looked uncomfortable with and lacked the trust of his boss. There was obvious tension throughout the season between Shanahan and Griffin, and the coach shut down the quarterback for the final three games in what looked more like a power move than anything having to do with strategy.
Shanahan was fired with a year left on his contract.
”We are men, and we do what we have to do,” Griffin said. ”And if coach says you’re doing something, you’re doing what coach says. That’s probably the easiest way I can say that. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, you do it.
”And at the end of the day,” he said, rapping the table for emphasis. ”I did everything coach asked me to. … So whatever hand was dealt me, that’s the hand I had to play, whether you like it or not.”
Griffin also defended his relationship with owner Dan Snyder, which has been cited as adding to the stress dynamic between quarterback and coach. Griffin reiterated that Shanahan – not Snyder – had final say on football matters.
”Coach decided to shut me down at the end of the year,” Griffin said. ”That’s not a decision where Dan comes and says, `Hey, you’re not going to do that.’ It was what coach decided. So Dan never meddled. My relationship with him is exactly the way it was before. … It was unfortunate what happened, and how he was portrayed last year – along with a lot of guys on the team.”
Teammates have said they sense a new freedom at Redskins Park under Gruden during offseason conditioning work, and Griffin echoes that feeling. He spoke of the good vibes he’s witnessed from the coach’s interaction with players, restoring a sense of ”we’re all in this together.”
”Guys can see who you are as soon as you step in front of them and start talking,” Griffin said. ”And I think guys really respect that, so it’s been a blessing this whole time.
”We’re not starting over,” he added. ”It is more like a new beginning. A fresh start, but we are not starting over because we definitely have the pieces in place to be successful now.”
Griffin recently launched an ”RG3” logo that will be used to brand new charity initiatives in D.C., including two camps and a ”Family of 3 Initiative” in which he will select three families and help support them. It can be tricky to promote yourself while preaching humbleness, but Griffin feels the cause is worthy.
”You’re not supposed to go out and announce, `Hey this is what I’m doing,”’ he said. ”But with these two initiatives that we’ll be running, I feel like there’s a need for this so that people can understand how they can help us give back.”
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