The big news here in Washington, D.C., (other than the mysteries of the U.S. Supreme Court) is that (a) the knee of quarterback Robert Griffin III is strained, not broken, and (b) that The Washington Post team survived another weekend covering a superstar who keeps talking about the fact that he apparently believes in a God who hears prayers and plays some meaningful role in the lives of real people.
So blame Twitter, of course, along with press conferences in which players get to say whatever is on their minds (and hearts).
Team spokesman Tony Wyllie said later Sunday evening that Griffin underwent an MRI exam and “everything is clear.” Griffin did not tear his anterior cruciate or medial collateral ligaments, Wyllie said. He called the injury a knee sprain and added that Shanahan will provide further details Monday. It remained unclear whether Griffin will be able to play next weekend.
Griffin wrote on Twitter: “Your positive vibes and prayers worked people!!!! To God be the Glory!”
Sports fans here in Beltwayland are certainly in full swoon mode, which the Post team tried to capture last week in a piece that ran with the headline, “Redskins’ Robert Griffin III maintains focus amid increasing frenzy.” This being Washington, it’s hard to write about a figure this charismatic without connecting him to politics, in one way or another.
I mean, check out this near-messianic language:
… (The) Redskins’ rookie quarterback was the subject of a CBS “Sunday Morning” segment that credited him with uniting politically polarized Washington, quoting some high-profile elected officials. On Monday night, Griffin played in his second nationally televised game and led the Redskins over the New York Giants for Washington’s first three-game win streak since 2008. (The victory also marked the Redskins’ sixth of the season, meaning they will at least finish one game better than last year’s 5-11 record.)
Following the game, analysts such as Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, fellow Super Bowl-winning passer Trent Dilfer and former Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden raved about Griffin’s play, which ESPN highlighted over the next 48 hours.
On Tuesday night, Griffin attended his first Washington Wizards game. Sitting courtside in owner Ted Leonsis’s seats, he stole the spotlight from the home team’s players, who upset LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. When the long-suffering Wizards pulled off the upset, fans and commentators wondered tongue-in-cheek if it was Griffin’s aura that had caused their good fortune.
“It’s humbling. You never go somewhere expecting people to chant your name,” Griffin said, referring to the response he got at the Verizon Center Tuesday night. “… It just means you’re really doing something for the city.”
How do reporters avoid Godtalk when dealing with a young Christian man who insists on saying things like this?
On Wednesday, a representative from the Pro Football Hall of Fame came to Redskins Park to collect the jersey and cleats that Griffin wore while he set the record Monday.
“Everyone wants to be in the Hall of Fame, so, we’re in there,” Griffin said after uncomfortably enduring the brief transfer ceremony of his memorabilia to the possession of the Hall of Fame official. “But I have a long career, prayerfully, and this is only the first step. It’s an honor to have my jersey and my cleats, although they’re very dirty, in the Hall of Fame.”
Following the “Monday Night Football” broadcast, Gruden gushed over Griffin, saying he his skills, and the plays the Redskins are running for him, have changed the pro game.
Griffin’s response: “I don’t think it’s me by myself, necessarily … God has blessed me with speed, and good decision-making, so [coaches] allow me to go out there and trust me even in crucial situations to throw the ball and run the ball or whatever it is. When a coach buys in and the whole team buys in, you can have what we’re doing.”
What is interesting, however, is the degree to which the Godtalk that is at the heart of Griffin’s life and persona has not been explored in major D.C. media at the level of information and facts. You know, journalism.
Thus, I was happy the other day when one of my former students — the digital comet named Chris Moody — was able to land a few moments to talk with Griffin on behalf of Yahoo! News. While the quarterback was extremely cautious about what he said, Moody asked some specific questions and learned at least one interesting fact that I don’t think has previously made it into print.
Here’s a clip or two from that Q&A interview, which begins, of course, with politics:
Yahoo News: When you cast your ballot for president, what were some of the most pressing issues that were on your mind?
RG3: For me, I always told my fiancée and my family that money would never change the way I viewed politics. For me, it wasn’t a money issue. It was about overall what each candidate presented, but I can’t disclose who I voted for.
YN: Why don’t you like to talk about who you voted for?
RG3: There’s a couple things you don’t talk about in life, and that’s race, religion and politics. I try to make sure I don’t talk about politics at all.
Religion does, however, show up later in the interview, along with the answer to one very specific question. However, Griffin remained very cautious, perhaps knowing that even general comments on specific faith issues — such as biblical authority — could be interpreted as commentary on political specifics:
YN: You grew up in a Christian home and went to a Baptist university. Have you found a home church in the D.C. area?
RG3: I go to a church in this area, but I haven’t necessarily found a home church yet. I’m still in the process of finding that.
YN: Where do you attend?
RG3: I go to Cornerstone [Fellowship Church.]
YN: Has your faith shaped the way you view politics or policy?
RG3: It shapes everybody’s view. To me, you don’t directly relate it, but my faith makes me who I am. When it comes to that, my beliefs are not strict to only what the Bible says. I’m influenced by. … You probably can’t point out exactly what it shapes, but it does shape you.
Looking at a digital search, it would seem likely that the congregation to which RG3 is referring is Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Frederick, MD. Looking at it’s website, and statements of faith, this appears to be a modern evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal congregation, which would be consistent with the congregations Griffin has attended in the past back in Texas.
In other words, stay tuned. In this town, questions will eventually be asked.