“It’s just different” – Jay-Z
And somehow, it feels that way now in the DMV.
I had some friends and family over last Sunday to watch the Redskins-Giants game, enjoy some pizza and wings and talk smack. It’s what we do in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia). Sunday afternoons revolve around the Skins game. It raises the blood pressure, for sure. But we keep coming back, every week, every year.
The joy that filled the room when our Lord and Savior Robert Griffin III, hit Santana Moss with about a minute and a half left, as the Redskins took a 23-20 lead, was indescribable. That was his moment. The moment that would take the Redskins from possible contender to first place in the NFC East. The moment that would vault RG3 from Rookie of the Year front-runner to potential MVP candidate.
It was a moment that, for Skins fans, we’ve been waiting for since, quite frankly, the Joe Gibbs I era. Even in a heartbreaking 27-23 loss to the division rival Giants, the hope that RG3 has given this region is a feeling people who follow the burgundy and gold haven’t felt in years.
Back in March, when Bruce Allen made the trade with St. Louis to get the rights to the No. 2 pick, it set off a firestorm in the DMV. Some said it was too much to give up. And yes, some people wanted Andrew Luck. But in D.C., known for years as Chocolate City, we wanted the brother. Make no mistake about it: race did have something to do with the excitement of potentially getting RG3.
For the months leading up to, and following, the draft, when it was finally official, we welcomed him – braids and all. Throw some shells and beer bottles caps on the edges of those plats, put him in Shooters gear and he’d fit right in in PG County.
“Destined to win, get respect where I live.” -- Wale
For years, the DMV-saying has been that the President of the United States is typically the second most popular person in D.C., behind the quarterback of the Redskins. With all due respect to President Obama, that is certainly the case this year.
Other than probably Atlanta, the perfect marriage between a black quarterback and an NFL fan base would be D.C. Michael Vick was and still is revered in black-Atlanta. The love and support most black folk showed Vick during his troubles was a perfect example of the loyalty we have to our own, on and off the field – even when they screw up. Good or bad, it’s called black protectionism and it’s a real thing.
Since draft day, in every barbershop – from Largo to Alexandria to Southeast to Silver Spring – not a day has gone by without an RG3 discussion; the subject of which has morphed from pre-draft hype, to preseason uncertainty to the eye-opening performances so far this season.
He has proven the doubters wrong. He’s lived up to the hype, so far. That’s our man.
But this isn’t the first time a black QB has been around.
Doug Williams cemented his legacy with his historic performance in Super Bowl XXII. He will forever have a hood pass around these parts.
Jason Campbell? We gave him a chance. But as a first-round pick, something just wasn’t there. There were the typical excuses (too many coordinators, broken down offensive line). But, when I saw Campbell take a couple of snaps last week while Jay Cutler was down, I saw the same happy feet, check down quarterback that we really wanted to do well, but just couldn’t take the next step.
Donovan McNabb? What proved to be a failed experiment did have us excited when the trade first went down. But when he wasn’t skipping passes, he was getting punked in the media and still not standing up for himself. Andy Reid was right.
Tony Banks? Please.
RG3 is just different. He was the Heisman winner. The No. 2 overall pick. Multiple endorsements. Freakishly athletic. He is what the other black QBs that played here could only dream of being.
And perhaps most importantly, there’s the poise, leadership and command of the team that puts him light years ahead of his predecessors, just seven games into his career. One of Campbell’s knocks was he seemed too laid back. Donovan was the company man. I’ve seen more shots of RG3 talking to his teammates than the two of them combined.
Fans recognize this. So much so, that we don’t even want him partying on the town like that, out of fear something may get screwed up.
My man Carrington who promotes at D.C.’s hottest nightclub, Park, said: “I believe he went out once before the season started just to meet and greet but that's about it.”
Yeah, stay safe in Virginia my man.
“I think he’s the MVP.” – Michael Wilbon
Not so fast.
RG3 has brought life to this city, for sure. But if we look back around this time last year, the same praises were thrown at Cam Newton in Charlotte. He was revolutionizing the quarterback position. He was setting records. He was exciting. Now that there’s a year’s worth of film, there are struggles and the hype seems so long ago.
So while the bandwagon is circling around the beltway, let’s keep it in perspective. RG3 is spectacular – you can’t go too far without seeing a “Griffin III” jersey. But before we head straight to Canton, let’s at least see how the second half of the season goes, when teams have an abundance of film on him and division opponents see him for a second time.
The DMV will always have love for Doug Williams. He set the standard for the black QB in D.C., but for the first time in a long time, the Redskins have a QB who gives them a chance to win week in and week out.
And that QB just so happens to look like you and me.