WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – A day after ripping RGIII for being more “commercial than competitor,” Howard Bryant of ESPN defended his column which accuses Griffin of falling victim to his own image.
Bryant, in an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny, was asked to identify the origin of the “racial bridge” term he applied to Griffin, as it seemed to come out of left field to many readers familiar with the Redskins quarterback.
“I remember it pretty specifically, I mean I think a lot it came from us in a lot of ways,” said Bryant, a writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.
“Obviously it’s an extremely delicate topic and also, him being a black quarterback in that city coming off of Donovan McNabb, there’s a lot of stuff there,” Bryant said. “It’s not like it doesn’t exist. It’s there.”
“But I don’t think it’s something that’s been created out of whole cloth, there’s no question that race has been easily a part of his game since he got there,” he said of RGIII, who, in his article, claimed is positioning himself as a transcendent figure. “I’m sorry, and also whether by his doing or not, it’s an unavoidable concept for him.”
Bryant would even explain how he thinks Griffin is responsible for the position he’s currently in, whatever hypothetical position that may be.
“I think its two fold, in fact we had a huge conversation about this column at ESPN, and my feeling is that I put this on the adults,” Bryant explained. “Okay, he’s 23. He’s an adult too but let’s face it, when you’ve got these suits, and you’ve marketers and you’ve got these guy with Adidas and Gatorade and everything else that he’s doing, you’ve got these guys saying ‘Look, you’re playing a sport that has a very short shelf life. You’ve got to take what you can get.’”
“And you know, that creation of RGIII, I mean he’s not even a person as much anymore, he’s a creation. People don’t even call him Robert,” he went on. “He’s RGIII. He’s become a nickname. He’s like a superhero. And when you start ratcheting up those expectations, the money comes with it.”
“You are in a really difficult spot of creating something that maybe you can’t live up to,” Bryant continued. “On the other hand, my editors were thinking ‘Well, this is on him. He’s an adult. He can go to Gatorade. He could go to Adidas and say ‘Look, I don’t want this. I’ve already had knee surgery in the past. Let this thing go and do not build an ad campaign around me. Do not turn me into this, because what if I don’t come back as quickly?’
But he reinforced his earlier point that all the blame doesn’t belong squarely on Griffin’s shoulders.
“I don’t put that on him as much as I put that on his handlers because the one thing we know, everyone who’s been around professional athletes, they’ve got to worry enough about playing,” he said.
Bryant placed Griffin’s ‘All in for Week 1’ Adidas campaign in the same category as that of Derrick Rose, adding, “When a guy gets hurt, hype the comeback. Market the comeback. Turn the comeback into a story. But what if the story doesn’t work out that way? Then who gets left hanging?”
Listen to the interview below.