Robert Griffin III still knows how to get on everybody’s nerves – Sporting News

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Robert Griffin III came close. So close. Like … thisclose .

And then the Browns’ new probable starting quarterback, Washington’s former star/third-stringer, closed his introductory press conference by saying, “No pressure, no diamonds.” It would’ve been a pretty solid mic-drop … and then, poof, it was smoked out as a phrase he tried to trademark in 2012. Whoops.

So, just like that, after 20 solid minutes of pseudo-image rehab, he reminded folks of the sloganeering brandbot who, paired with injury and poor play, started getting on everyone’s collective nerves over the last three years.

Reading too far into athletes’ business-centric, brand-building decisions is a hazard — NFL players in particular have it tough there, because setting themselves up after a short, physically ruinous career in a league without their best interests at heart is necessary and, in spots, admirable. It’s a rough place, and they deserve slack.

Be great. Maximize your potential. Get money.  Those aren’t inherently bad trains of thought. RGIII, from the jump, has acted with them in mind — to a fault. In Washington, he dialed it up to a billion. You don’t need to look farther than his adidas-aligned preseason catchphrases which, somehow, lasted all four years.

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Know Your Why precipitated something great. All In For Week 1 … that’s where the problems started, because it put unavoidable pressure not just on the stability of his knee, but on the Redskins coaching staff. This Is For Us … it was for adidas, actually. Last year was Talk Small, Play Big , which is self-defeating to a comical extent. He didn’t play … at all, really.

Mixed in there were other aborted slogans like “No pressure, no diamonds.” It got, in a word, old. And it was the sort of thing you’d have expected him to, if not ignore totally, at least downplay in his introduction with the Browns. Nuh-uh.

And it’s somehow gotten easier to feel bad for him; whether he’s a bad guy or not — he seems more oblivious, which doesn’t mean anything beyond that — he deserves a fresh start.

Robert Griffin III (Getty Images)

Things spiraled on him in Washington, partially for reasons beyond his control ; none of it would’ve happened had Mike Shanahan passed on the franchise-altering, possibly ruinous decision to throw wobbly-as-could-be version of Griffin to the wolves during the 2012 playoffs.

From there, the die was cast; he was a no-longer-brilliant player with a gigantic ego and a promotional boat that was taking on water, and he needed desperately to change teams. So he did, and regardless of whatever comes next — it’s almost certainly bad , but that’s another issue — he deserves a shot to make it work. That, though, hinges on him making it easy for himself.

Griffin, based on the last three years, is almost historically bad at that.

ESPN carried the media conference live. After several minutes of Griffin saying generally the right thing, the feed from Cleveland dropped out, and Darren Woodson and Tedy Bruschi were left to do a mid-stream analysis of how it’d gone so far.

(Up to that point, his best line was, “If you say you’re humble, then you’re not humble, so I can’t say that.” That’s true and self-aware, if a little annoying. He said and didn’t say all the right things about the city, and Josh McCown, and the way things ended in D.C. He also played to his audience; when a reporter asked what last season was like, he went Socratic Method and asked “Have you ever been able to not write?” Pretty sure whatever he dealt with was tougher than not being able to write. Still — baby steps.)

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Still, both (Bruschi in particular) seemed to reject the whole premise; they were annoyed that the presser was happening at all. In the moment, the logic seemed faulty — what were Griffin and the Browns supposed to do? Media in Cleveland and beyond weren’t going to stop wondering about any of this; might as well try to get out in front.

And if he hadn’t talked, it would’ve taken on a life of its own. Say the Browns opted to send out a press release saying Griffin would be around for minicamp, and that was when he’d discuss his new team. It would’ve gotten negatively spun by some of the same people who were angry about Wednesday’s little thing before it was over. Not a good situation to find yourself in.

Then, ESPN picked the feed back up. Within a couple minutes, Griffin was delivering his walk-off, proving Bruschi and Woodson to be retroactively correct.

If nothing else, though, Griffin showed his dedication to his slogan — but he still doesn’t seem to get that pressure, whether it makes a diamond or not, doesn’t always need to come from yourself.

Robert Griffin III still knows how to get on everybody’s nerves – Sporting News