RGIII Brings Cool Factor to Washington
Redskins hope the highly talented quaterback can bring the team succes on and off the field.
If you're wondering why everyone in your office is sporting braids and insisting on being called by their initials Friday morning, you can thank one person—Robert Griffin III.
Last night the Washington Redskins selected Griffin—more commonly known as RGIII—with the second overall pick in the NFL draft, culminating a months long lovefest with the highly talented Heisman winning quarterback out of Baylor University. With the pick, the Redskins and their fans hope to end a generation’s worth of mediocre play at football's most important position, and bring an infusion of excitement to a team seemingly incapable of escaping the gravitational pull of its black hole of futility.
RGIII's physical gifts are a big reason for the buzz he has generated across the NFL landscape. Equipped with an accurate cannon for an arm and world-class speed, the quarterback possesses the type of skills usually reserved for custom designed players in video games.
But it's not just RGIII's time in the 40-yard dash and shuttle run that has garnered him a near cult-like following in and around Washington, DC.
The best and most important thing about RGIII is that he's just so damn cool.
Blessed with a million-dollar arm and $5 million smile, the coolest nickname since "Snowmaggedon," and an affable and engaging personality, RGIII is a marketers dream, and stands poised to shift the national level view of the Redskins from pity to envy.
Seriously, when was the last time DC sports were cool? In a town often referred to as "Hollywood for ugly people"—where the powerbrokers consist largely of stuffy old white guys working as lobbyists, lawyers or, worst of all, in Congress—DC sports teams have long lacked any real star power worthy of national attention. Sure, in recent years the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg have created blips on the radar of the nation's sports landscape. But in a world where football is king, rookie pitchers and Russian born wingers—no matter how good they are—do not make your city cool.
What makes your city cool is a dominating quarterback whose jersey is worn by kids across America.
Even better, RGIII's cool factor lacks the seedy underbelly often associated with high-profile athletes. Instead of smoking in the boys room, RGIII spent his time at Baylor studying, as he graduated early with a 3.6 GPA and started pursuing a masters degree. Raised in a military family and seemingly well grounded and disciplined, he seems to possess a self-awareness and motivation rarely seen in young college graduates in any profession.
No scandals appear to lurk in the shadows of his braids. There have been no bar room brawls, no Twitter meltdowns from @RGIII, no lewd photos from Cartegena. The most outrageous things about the kid are his socks, a colorful display of super heroes and comic book characters, which could be comfortably tucked into the drawer of any four-year-old in America.
In our highly cynical and public society, this lack of scandal somehow seems scandalous. Perhaps to stem the tide of overwhelming effusive praise being heaped upon RGIII in the weeks before the draft, a few rumors started trickling out that indicated the quarterback might be "selfish."
Really? That's the best you can do anonymous source? A kid who eschews offers from bigger-name schools to follow the coach that recruited him to Baylor, and then single-handedly resurrects a moribund football program is selfish? The same kid who smiled all the way while attending the NCAA tournament to cheer on Baylor's men's and women's basketball teams while touting his love for the "green and gold" is selfish? If the anonymous sources thought RGIII's cool party could be torn down with one word, they were eventually undone by two other words that better characterize the accusations ... petty and unfounded.
The Redskins took a huge risk when they traded away basically every single draft pick for the next 20 years to move up this year to select RGIII. But unlike past attention-grabbing moves by the franchise, this one seems justified, and is already paying dividends. The Redskins and RGIII are the darlings of the sports world, for now. In the irrational world of sports exuberance, attendees at the NFL draft actually booed Stanford's Andrew Luck when he was selected number one overall by the Colts, all the while chanting "RGIII, RGIII." This is the same Andrew Luck who has been called the best quarterback prospect to come out of college since hall of famer John Elway.
But for all of the physical gifts that Luck possesses, he's not close to being as cool as RGIII. RGIII's coolness led many Redskins fans to worry that the Colts might actually take him instead of Luck with the first overall pick. How in the world can a team that has not had a legitimate franchise quarterback since the early 1980s be worried about getting stuck with the best quarterback prospect since Elway?
Like those ESPN commercials point out, "It's Not Crazy, It's Sports." DC sports fans are desperate to be cool again. This morning, there is an adolescent-like giddiness across the region. We all just got invited to prom by the coolest kid in school, and his name is RGIII.