Robert Griffin III is back and you can't look away
He's back, more pompous and slightly-less injured than ever.
There's some sort of perverse joy in watching the former No. 2 pick, who had a magical rookie season before the Redskins and the injuries, stubbornness and Shanahans killed it all, forcing his career reclamation project in the NFL's worst place for such an undertaking. Griffin possesses an air of mystery. (The RG3 moniker, by the way, is dead and four touchdowns and seven interceptions in the last 1,095 days killed it. You don't get a cool nickname when Jared Goff had more touchdowns in an eight-day stretch than you had in almost three years. A guy like Buzz Aldrin gets to keep his nickname for life. A guy who was once benched for Colt McCoy does not.) And that's why, despite the fact that no one outside masochistic fans of Ohio-based football would normally have any legitimate interest in this game, you'll be paying attention. (Don't try the fantasy excuse. You couldn't possibly have any fantasy players to watch because this is the first week of the fantasy playoffs. If you had any Browns or Bengals you wouldn't be playing in the first week of the fantasy playoffs)
Why should Robert Griffin III remain an object of interest to us four years after his last successes? There's those successes, mixed with his college superstardom, plus his ever-burning desire to remain in the public light that still captivates us. And America loves nothing more than second acts, even if those second acts will mainly consist of getting picked off by Pacman Jones. Overall though, we like that all three possible outcomes on Sunday provide a satisfying result to us, the viewer.
1. He's horrible.
It allows us to take guilt-free pleasure in somebody else's misery. Because, at the end of the day, if Robert Griffin III loses 41-0 on Sunday with a 7/19 performance for 96 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT and a QB rating that looks like the GPA of a UNC football player in the Butch Davis era, he's still going home healthy, rich and having it better than 99.9% of the world. Given his self-righteous, passive-aggressive Twitter posting, his need for football martyrdom and the phoniness with which he's publicly lived his private life, he's made himself a target. You don't need to feel bad rooting against him just because his body can't take the pounding of the NFL (and because, inexplicably, he still hasn't learned to slide). It's a tragic football career but not close to an actual tragedy. Johnny Manziel is a tragedy. Rashaan Salaam is a tragedy. Griffin is a man who has gotten paid million of dollars to play football and, except for about 11 weeks in the fall of 2012, hasn't done much to earn it. Boo away.
2. He gets hurt.
It's the old NASCAR axiom: people watch to see the crashes. Griffin has proved more brittle than a Christmas ornament hanging on a weak branch. There's a reasonable chance he doesn't make it past the first quarter. Every hit (and he takes big ones because, again, dude still can't slide) leaves you wincing and squinting your eyes to see if he'll be able to keep going. No one is rooting for an injury, mind you, but given that Griffin couldn't even make it through Week 1 without suffering an ailment that knocked him out for three months, thus validating the jokes every single NFL fan on the planet made when he signed with the Browns, it's worth tuning in to see. And seriously, we can't overstate the hilarity of his slides.
3. He wins.
When you're just there for the rubbernecking, you have no dog in the fight. Thus, if Griffin's successful, you can be pleased for him. So he's a little pompous on Twitter. So he's really annoying to listen to and will think if he beats the Bengals it'll be a sign of divine intervention rather than what it'll actually be: showing a modicum of greater effort than the other team in a game that'll be the equivalent of football Ambien.
Robert Griffin III is not a bad guy - not by any measure. He's just someone easy to root against. If he loses on Sunday, well, we all called it. If he happens to win and shows flashes of his old Baylor and Redskins self, then it's all good because it means one thing - we get to go to the circus again next Sunday.