If you’ve taken a trip to certain Caribbean islands, as soon as you hop off the plane somebody is trying to sell you some ganja.
Sure, the initial toke is heavenly. You got your head right and are enjoying your trip, but everywhere you turn—the pool, the local fish market, even the clubs—this cat is there forcing his next hustle on you.
What began as a welcomed intervention becomes an almost intrusive situation.
There’s a growing contingent of football fans who feel the same way about Washington Redskins superstar QB, Robert Griffin III.
The hype machine helped him become the NFL’s most dynamic media darling. Now, this dude can’t even brush his teeth without social media reporting it.
Some cats have already seen enough of RG3 to last five pro careers, but we’d have to know what’s going on in RG3’s dome to know if he’s feeling the overexposure, which can turn fans and teammates into foes and burden an athlete. Ask Dwight Gooden or Alex Rodriguez.
As expected, Redskins fans and general football enthusiasts lash out at anyone implying that RG3 should fall back from the endless tweets and instagram pics ranging from wedding gifts purchased for him by fans to hanging out with Morgan Freeman at movie premieres to messaging his side piece on his wedding day.
Football cravers selfishly want to be exposed to RG3’s off-the-field life as passionately as they desire his dazzling play on Sundays. It’s just how the world has evolved. No one is going to ask for less of something they love. Until the explosion of social networks, this wasn’t possible. Mail correspondence and chance encounters were the pipeline to your celebrity crush. But now, these mediums provide fans with a direct link to a legend, and if you push the right buttons, you may even get a response!
So there’s something to be said for O.G’s like Donovan McNabb, who preach discretion to the young guns out there. Even if it’s unsolicited and perceived as cloaked jealousy, you can’t discount the fact that he’s still a brother that’s pounded these stadium pavements.
It’s not like RG3 has done anything wrong. He never told a Supreme Court Justice, "come on, loosen up, Sandy baby, you’re too tight,” like former Redskins HOFer John Riggins did during a drunken tirade at a White House Press Club dinner he attended in the ‘80s.
RG3 is considered the complete opposite. He’s a marketing dream with unblemished character. This is where the overexposure becomes a hindrance.
Celebrity becomes a slippery slope when “morality” is a selling point of your image. When people start identifying you using terms like “clean cut” and “All-American”… unless you’re Tim Tebow it breeds trouble, because perfect humans don’t exist. Especially ones with millions to burn at 23. Just ask Tiger Woods.
Don’t get it twisted; the ink RG3 gets is worthy. You must admit, however, that his rise to media and NFL domination just evolved quicker than normal.
Even the explosive Air Jordan brand took some years to reach the heights of uninhibited overexposure. Jordan’s sky-walking got him a sneaker, but MJ’s media saturation really popped when he established himself as a champion. By December of his rookie season, RG3 had already sold more jerseys than any player in a single season since the league started tracking the numbers six years ago. The previous record holder was Brett Favre with the New York Jets (2008) and Minnesota Vikings (2009).
In many ways, he’s a victim of his generation, like other “flawed” superstars. Joe Namath dabbled in womanizing. Mickey Mantle was a drunk. RG3 is addicted to the limelight. He even allowed cameras at his rehab sessions, and everybody knows that’s the opposite of self-deprecation, which is usually the key to avoiding haters. ESPN’s Jason Whitlock said Griffin “wants to be a Kardashian.”
Need I say more?
Being on everyone’s social radar exposes the young king to potentially regretful situations, as well as wacked opinions and psychoanalysis from folks who wouldn’t know the difference between a field goal and a stolen base.
RG3’s eagerness to return from serious knee surgery is a good example. The process was covered like a presidential election and the constant slurping by fans, media and celebrity leeches don’t help keep him grounded. When a cat like RG3 is in his physical prime and a celebrity of enormous status, people expect flawless execution in everything he does.
Lofty expectations can lead to precipitous falls, but RG3 is definitely one who doesn’t run from praise. It’s possible, however, how he handles that adulation and to what extent he’ll go to maintain it, could blur his sensibilities and dictate his decision-making.
When Griffin further wrecked his knee against Seattle last January, he begged to be out there on busted wheels. It ended disastrously, but RG3’s reflective analysis shows a dangerous, self-absorbed train of thought.
“Your survivor instinct kicks in,” Griffin said in a May ESPN The Magazine article “You’re like, ‘I’m a warrior. I’m a beast. I do all these things I can to push through adversity. I don’t feel like playing against the Seahawks was a mistake. But I see the mistake IN IT.”
In that same article, the author says he can be “the most transformative athlete, role model and voice of a generation.”
That’s a lot of pressure for my dude. No wonder, RG3 got a little feisty when Shanahan refused to play him in preseason and didn’t immediately declare a “healthy” Griffin the starter for Game 1.
It’s all reflective of the effects of overexposure. Washington’s signal-caller feels his duty is to carry this badge of invincibility, but trying to juggle a 24-7 celebrity lifestyle and the challenge of leading a pro team to the top, is a task few players can handle for very long.
Who really wants that from RG3? Longevity’s achieved by promoting and preserving your brand. RG3’s not partying all day and he’s also not rehabbing all day. But it’s his down time when the paparazzi and media hounds willingly get a nice look at him. These are all self-serving media outlets that would gladly frame the false impression that he is a party animal who should be rehabbing, but instead is doing the electric slide at a Kentucky Derby after-jam with members of the Young Republican’s Party.
It’s all about perception, isn’t it? If anybody knows that, it’s RGIII.
Rob Parker’s perception is what made him call Griffin III “a cornball brother.”
The negative way the public perceived those comments sealed the long-time reporter’s fate with ESPN’s First Take show.
How will the public perceive Griffin III, if he doesn’t instantly return to superhuman form tonight in his matchup against O.G. Mike Vick? They don’t want excuses they want an uncompromised, full-throttle version of RGIII, and eventually public sentiment will shift if his game slips.
RGIII’s story is one that needs to be allowed to play out before categorizing him as a person or a player. There’s too much rushing to judgment going on.
At this rate, for RGIII to avoid becoming “old news,” he’ll have to continue to be the healthy centerpiece of major marketing campaigns, catch wreck and win a lot of games.
In a perfect world, when Griffin is done balling, he’ll get the red carpet treatment Favre got. Because Favre learned to crawl before he flew, when it was time for the wild cowboy to breeze at 40, people actually were begging for him to stay.
If RGIII wants that same ending, he needs to be stingier with his information flow, photo ops and give people a chance to miss him.