NFL

Robert Griffin III's Leadership: Media Manufactured Narrative or Actual Smoke?

Robert Griffin is not a leader like Incognito, because he is actually reading

Last week, it was Darrell Green who did not think Robert Griffin III was a leader. Three weeks ago, Sally Jenkins referred to Griffin as an “unteachable know it all.” This week, comments from Robert Griffin after the 24-16 loss to the Eagles are being used as fuel to challenge his ability to “lead” a team from the quarterback position, and take responsibility. (The Washington Times led with the headline: “It’s not the heat, it’s the humility”)  The reported Griffin comments include calling out the play calling, and also, apparently not taking responsibility for the bad interception on a throw away attempt that ended the comeback.

Santana Moss has now jumped in the fray, making several pointed comments yesterday about Griffin.

“If we’re going to win games, we need to win games with our guy saying, ‘At the end of the day, I didn’t make a play,’ regardless of if it wasn’t him,” Moss said on the “LaVar and Dukes” show. “And that’s how I feel. Because that’s what we’re out there to do.”

. . .

“I don’t need to be going back and forth in the media about who didn’t do this and who didn’t do what,” Moss said. “At the end of the day, I was seen with the ball in my hand last, as a quarterback I’m saying, and if it didn’t get done then I’m going to let you know it was me. Whether it was me or not. It was me. And I’m going to get better. And we’re going to get better together.”

So what did Griffin actually say after the game? [h/t: Stephen White] The actual transcript of post-game quotes from Griffin include the following:

We had a certain concept with running and nobody got open so I was backing up, and in the situation where you get a sack there, it ends the game. I was trying to throw the ball to the back of the end zone. It didn’t get to where I wanted it to go. Obviously I was on my heels and it’s something I can definitely learn from, but at the end of the day, for us to claw back the way we did—it sounds cliché and we always talk about character. The guys in that locker room are family and they fought hard. It’s tough to swallow something like that but we have to digest it and move on and there are still games to be played and we need to go play them.

“I’m just trying to throw as far as I can and me backing up, trying to throw it out of the back of the end zone, the distance that it was, it was something I shouldn’t do. It’s something I’ll learn from.”

I know that’s not a quick sound bite. But if you are going to fire off and say he should have taken responsibility, shouldn’t you know what he actually said? It was a bad interception. It also came with no timeouts and so little time left that a sack would have likely ended the game. A review of the play shows no one was open. He tried to throw it away, but did a poor job of it. I don’t see anything controversial or “lack of leadership”-y about that statement.

[RELATED: RG3 Got Drilled by Connor Barwin. How Does Griffin Survive All These Punishing Hits?]

We’ve already seen this week how a reporter basically manufactured a quote to fit the narrative he wanted. The fuzzier version of that is including a quote that cuts off the very thing that would absolve the speaker from the criticism that fits the precious narrative. “He needs to take responsibility!”

This is not to say that Griffin may not have ruffled some feathers behind the scenes. It appears though, that Moss is responding to a quote and asking Griffin to say the very thing he did say.

The same kind of selective use of quotes is present in the play calling nonsense.

I don’t think it has become predictable. [LB] DeMeco [Ryans] is a pretty good linebacker and they do good things with him and the other guy— his name is [LB] Najee Goode. They allowed DeMeco the play-pass first. A lot of times they were trying to hit those play-pass holes behind him and he can run to those holes. I think on the back, he did a good job of running to the holes as well, kind of scheming stuff and knowing what type of holes we’re trying to hit on those three level holes, or whatever you might want to call it. I don’t think we’ve become predictable. I just think they had the right call in the right situation and they lucked into some pretty good recoveries.

A single statement pulled out of an oral discussion in response to a quick question can be dressed up how the media wants–sometimes a statement that wasn’t even made. Writing is more deliberate. I should be better able to express myself in writing than in a quick conversation. That didn’t prevent Sally Jenkins, for example, from feeling she had to clarify her “know it all” comment regarding Griffin.

God forbid, though, that we actually look for context and information when an athlete talks after a game.

When it comes to the Griffin leadership drama this week, I’m going with a touch of “this is what happens when a team loses” and a dash of media manufactured nonsense.

Related: Washington Redskins are in the Same Position as One Year Ago, and Sunday is Must-Win Against the Eagles
Related: RG3 Will Block You on Twitter if You Say Something Negative
Related: Mychal Kendricks Suplexed RG3, and Washington Held Its Collective Breath

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