WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – “The great RG3, whose career is composed of one magical season and exactly one playoff game, is more commercial than competitor,” Howard Bryant writes in the opening stanza of his latest piece for ESPN The Magazine.
Bryant spares no expense for Griffin’s feelings in painting him as a fraud; labeling his comeback narrative as “silly,” calling his inspirational tweets and commercials and weekly press conferences “dubious,” as he tears down the larger-than-life media image, reducing it to nothing more than the byproduct of a contrived marketing campaign.
“The competitor is still there, rehabbing uncertainly in real time,” Bryant maintains. “But there’s no margin, because now the games count and he’s not ready; he is unable to run from defenders and create wonder because of a knee brace so bulky that his left leg — the good leg — looks like a toothpick. Griffin has responded by arrogantly attempting (“There’s no knee issue,” he said before a loss to Detroit left Washington 0–3) to deny the obvious: He isn’t the same player. And he has no one to blame but himself for being packaged in a way that created unrealistic expectations.”
Griffin has undoubtedly looked sluggish at times, despite claims from his knee brace manufacturer that he’s 100% and actually faster with the brace. However, the prevailing, optimist thought that lingers is he’s still regaining strength in his knee, and as the season wears on, his confidence will return as well – at least according to Dr. James Andrews – which should eventually result in a faster RGIII; the quarterback everyone fell in love with during his Rookie of the Year campaign.
But perhaps the biggest takeaway from Bryant’s piece, is the accusation that Griffin is to blame for this alleged gap between his media image and the player he actually is on the field.
However, Bryant does suggest it’s not all on Griffin. This is where it gets really personal.
“The biggest reason, however, is that he has allowed himself to be manipulated, rendered inauthentic by marketing,” Bryant writes. “He took the money and hyped his own promise, and while there is nothing wrong with betting on oneself, Griffin is now trapped within a construct that is difficult for his performance to overcome.”
While Bryant’s take will certainly be viewed as that of the contrarian from within the D.C. bubble, there seems to be a growing sentiment outside it, which, if it doesn’t mirror it, certainly lends credibility to his claims.
Nearly two weeks ago, renowned broadcaster James Brown, ever-careful with his words, suggested Griffin needed to “tone it down” a bit, because he’s beginning to develop a negative reputation with players around the league; a thought Michael Wilbon reinforced.
It’ll now be on RGIII to again prove his doubters wrong, although, if history is any motivator, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Read Bryant’s RGIII piece here. Let us know what you think below.