Robert Griffin III braved the media on Wednesday as the Washington Redskins opened training camp for the first time with the highly touted second round overall draft pick.
It was a situation where the heralded rookie could easily have taken the opportunity to shamelessly promote himself. After all, that's exactly what the Redskins were doing with him.
Instead, he was admirably self-effacing.
When asked how it felt to be the new face of the Redskins, Griffin had the good grace to seem embarrassed by the question. His reply was succinct: "I mean there's really no true face of the franchise, because if we all just had faces, we'd all be dead. There's got to be a heart, got to be some legs, some arms, some skin. That's those guys in there (his teammates). I guess you could say I'm just the mask. Those guys are the really ones that make up the body of this team."
Its refreshing to see such modesty on display in a league that has come to be dominated by too many players who believe they're not only the greatest things on the gridiron, but on two legs. Unfortunately, this false sense of privilege seems to have trickled down to both the college and high school ranks in recent years. Its not difficult to see why, when NFL salaries are in the stratosphere and kids are bombarded with constant images of their idols' bad behavior.
However, nothing is more inspiring for your team and more demoralizing for the opponent than making that impossible catch, throwing an incredible pass or scoring on a heart-stopping run. The best way to diminish the perception of your performance is to crow about it. In fact, it may have the unintended consequence of galvanizing your adversary. Its great to play with a little swagger, the fans expect that, but bottom line; no one likes a braggart. Just ask Randy Moss or Terrell Owens.
Griffin has demonstrated that he has the athletic talent, at least on the college level. Nevertheless, as an untested newcomer, he's taking the right tack. Fans will have to wait for the season to find out if Griffin will make a meaningful contribution. As it is, he's got his work cut out for him since the Redskins have finished in last place in the NFC East for four years running. Surely though, his stock is on the rise in they eyes of his veteran colleagues just based on his attitude.
New York Giants Defensive End Osi Umenyoira recently stated publicly that he won't refer to Griffin by his nickname "RG3" because Griffin hasn't earned it yet with professional performance. Maybe Umenyoira should loosen up a little, Griffin at the very least seems headed in the right direction.