RGIII–You’ve Got a Fan in Me

January 9th, 2013

It’s not easy to say this, but I feel I’m ready to come out now.

Here goes.

I’m a huge Robert Griffin III fan.

The reason it’s tough to put it in writing for the entire world to see is simple.  I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan.  Every Sunday afternoon growing up, my family and I cheered for the Cowboys from our 50-yard-line seats at the old Texas Stadium.  When the Cowboys won, I was ecstatic.  When they lost (particularly to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowls), I was thrown into a deep depression until the next season rolled around.

So, here I am professing my admiration for the quarterback of the Washington Redskins.

Amazing.

Growing up a Cowboys fan naturally means you also hate the Redskins.  I know the feeling is mutual.  Years ago, I lived in Washington when the Redskins played the Cowboys in an important playoff game.  Every morning, I’d ride the Metro into downtown D.C. for the week leading up to the game and every morning the train conductor would make some smart aleck crack about the Cowboys along the way. The Arlington National Cemetery stop was particularly irritating.

“Next stop, Arlington National Cemetery,” he would say, “Future home of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Without fail, the entire train would erupt in cheers with one notable exception.  I’d just sit there and stew.

That’s how big a Cowboys fan I was.

Jerry Jones’ purchase of the team in the 1990s mellowed me a great deal on the fan front.  I just couldn’t get as worked up about the Cowboys as I had before with someone so seemingly arrogant running the show.  That helped me cope years later when my youngest son became a rabid New York Giants fan.  Rather than attempt to convert him, I just accepted it. I even allowed him to embrace the joy of the love of sports by permitting him to hang a life size Fathead of Eli Manning on his bedroom wall.

Still, it’s one thing to become rather lukewarm about the Cowboys and accept the Giants.  It’s a totally different matter to cheer for anyone or anything associated with the Redskins.

For me, RGIII changed all that.

Besides being a Cowboys fan, I’m also a diehard Texas Longhorns fan.  Even still, I grew to admire RGIII when he played for the Baylor Bears.  Besides being a tremendous player, I liked how he carried himself and what he represented.  He’s clearly a good guy—someone kids can admire and respect.

I certainly wasn’t happy he went to the Redskins, but as time wore on, I’ve grown not only to accept it but to embrace it as well.  I even own an RGIII Redskins jersey, although I still haven’t mustered up the courage to put it on yet.  Part of this is because it would just seem weird to me to dress like a Redskins fan but also because my oldest son is a Cowboys fan, so out of respect for him, I’ve promised never to wear it during any game where the two teams face each other.

RGIII is a great role model.  He’s a credit to the Redskins and to the Heisman Trophy committee who honored him in 2011 as college’s best player.

Sadly, his example stands in stark contrast to that of Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who won the 2012 award. Before Aggies fans jump all over me on this one, let me be clear.  Manziel or Johnny Football as he’s known is an extremely talented football player.  He’s very fun to watch.  I’m glad the Longhorns aren’t playing the Aggies on an annual basis anymore because I’m sure I’d find sitting through that about as pleasurable as a tooth extraction.

While Manziel is a very talented football player, he is the antithesis of Griffin.  I would have hoped his pre-season arrest would have convinced him to clean up his act and start serving as a positive example to others.  However, watching his post-Cotton Bowl antics recently, sadly, I’m not sure it had much of an impact on him.

Today, RGIII will undergo another major surgery on his knee.  Unfortunately, that kind of injury in a rookie year does not bode well for a long NFL career.  I hope that’s not the case and that he returns at 100%.

I look forward to getting up the nerve to put that jersey on and cheer for him to do well next year (but not necessarily the entire Redskins team . . . old habits die hard).