New Browns QB Robert Griffin III posed like a statue before surprising some unsuspecting high school football players Tuesday after the group was told they had just received $25,000 from the NFL team for new helmets and uniforms.
"First time I’ve been a mannequin," RG3 said.
Along with teammate Cam Erving, Griffin executed the trick play during a presentation at North Ridgeville High School. Standing silently and stiffly on a stage holding a ball and dressed in a helmet and full uniform, Griffin playfully lunged to startle two players.
"Let’s just say it was really hard not to breathe for that long, but it was fun," he said. "The kids were really excited. I was afraid I was going to head butt the one kid because he was so close. The goal was to scare them, but I didn’t want to hit the kid in the face with the helmet — that probably would have ruined the surprise."
Griffin, who recently signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland following a tumultuous three-year stay in Washington, was eager to take part in the Browns’ donation toward the new equipment and training for coaches to promote safety.
"Whenever we can take measures to make the game safer and prolong players’ longevity, that’s a step that we’ve got to take," he said. "We all know it’s a very dangerous sport, but if we can make it safer and keep the kids out there having fun, that’s what we want to do."
It was also another chance for Griffin to get to know Cleveland better and vice versa. The 26-year-old’s fresh start comes with a franchise that has spent much of the past two decades looking for a cornerstone quarterback.
While Griffin is expected to start next season, nothing is guaranteed. Cleveland, which traded out of the No. 2 overall spot in last weekend’s draft and a chance to take Carson Wentz and then passed over several other upper-tier QBs, selected Southern California’s Cody Kessler in the third round.
Following the draft, Browns vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said Kessler would be given a chance to compete with Griffin. Griffin said he never expected to be given the starting job.
"I’ve never been handed anything in my life, so this will be no different," he said.
Griffin said he’s looking forward to working with Kessler, one of five quarterbacks currently on Cleveland’s roster. Kessler passed for more than 10,000 yards and 88 touchdowns during his career with the Trojans, but what impressed new Browns coach Hue Jackson most was his accuracy (68 percent).
"I’m definitely not the veteran in the room, that’s Josh (McCown), but I’ve preached to the guys that the stronger that we are in that QB room the stronger this team will be," Griffin said. "Cody’s going to come in here and he’s going to be competing with all of us, but at the end of the day we have to help him know what it is to be a professional quarterback in the NFL, help him learn the offense and get up to speed.
"And the best man will win the job."
Griffin, too, was excited about Cleveland’s other draft picks, including wide receiver and fellow Baylor alum Corey Coleman, taken with the No. 15 overall pick.
And like those impressionable high school kids, the Browns rookie class will need some help and Griffin intends to give it to them.
"The organization did a great job in bringing in competition, bringing in guys that we as the leaders are going to have to shape and mold and show them the Cleveland Brown way" he said. "And that doesn’t mean the old Cleveland Brown way or what happened in the past, it means what coach Jackson and Sashi have set up and put in for our expectations."