So in the upcoming issue of ESPN the Magazine, J.R. Moehringer writes a very long story that's an open letter to President Obama about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. The premise is that they're not so different, those two, in terms of the hope they represent and the manner in which people view them and the way in which they're required to carry themselves in a world in which their every word and action will be parsed for the deepest possible meaning. It's a worthwhile read, because it reveals some things about Griffin's personality, which is fascinating and atypical. But the part everyone's talking about is the part in which Griffin talks about the knee injuries he suffered late in his rookie season and what he learned from them:
But people don't understand the primal impulses of an athlete: "Your survivor instinct kicks in. You're like, 'I'm a warrior. I'm a beast. I do all these things, I can push through adversity.'"
He acknowledges that he needs to work on moderating that instinct. "If I had another incident like the Ngata hit, I'm out of the game. You pull yourself out at that point. You learn from your mistakes."
What about the Seahawks game? "I don't feel like playing against the Seahawks was a mistake. But I see the mistake in it."
"With what happened and how everything was running -- you take me out. If that happened again next year, I'd come out of the game and sit until I was 100 percent healthy."
There's been a lot said this offseason, including by Griffin himself, about who was responsible for what happened in the playoff game and whether Mike Shanahan should have taken Griffin out against his will. (This writer is on record as saying he should have, and was saying so in the press box as the mess was unfolding.) But the idea of the experience as a lesson learned and to be applied to similar situations in the future is an encouraging one for Redskins fans. Legitimate questions remain as to whether Griffin and those responsible for his long-term health would be able to apply that lesson in the heat of a similar moment or whether those same instincts would take over again, but at least he's not still insisting that it was the right thing to do, as he did in the moments that followed that playoff game.
Griffin is only 23 years old, and ideally we'll all get the chance to continue watching and writing and talking about him for years to come. He's a lot of fun to watch, and a fascinating young man to follow. But I believe he understands that a large portion of his own hopes and dreams rest on his ability to take care of his own health. It seems as though that concept has been drilled into him by his parents. And it's entirely possible that his most recent devastating knee injury could be the thing that gets him to take it more seriously than he may have when he was younger.