A grocery store can be a hodgepodge reflection of humanity and its numerous social graces, or lack thereof. On a recent trip to my local emporium I spotted not one, but two parents who had their offspring tethered to them by leash. This practice is nothing new. Yet I always get a chuckle out of seeing it. Makes me think the parent is horrible at understanding the psychology of his or her child and that years of therapy are in store for the little one somewhere down the road; kids that may or may not have Ritalin written all over them. Alas, that’s a subject for another blog that has nothing to do with sports.
But with those amusing images floating around in my noggin of the petulant child agonizing against the reins of the disengaged parent who is busy comparing the firmness of cantaloupes in the produce aisle, I couldn’t help but think of the roller coaster week that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and head coach Mike Shanahan enjoyed at Redskins training camp in Richmond, Virginia.
When asked by a reporter during his weekly press conference how he felt about the team’s plan to hold him out of practice and preseason games, the affable RGIII (still recovering from major off-season knee surgery) stating that he can’t “BS through that question,” expressed that he doesn’t quite understand “the plan,” and emoted his displeasure in how he has been handled. Naturally, in a town where politics take a back seat to Redskins football as soon as training camp opens and Congress goes on vacation, this statement had all the talking heads around the Beltway and the world of sport wondering if there is a rift between coach and star player.
Fiddlesticks. Realizing that the fluff was beginning to harden around the edges, Redskins PR sprung into action and 24 hours later, RGIII and Shanahan appeared separately before the microphones in order to clear things up. Clarifying his statement, RGIII said that he’s a competitor and that it’s merely hard for him to sit out drills and the actual games, but that he’s a company guy and will toe the line. Do what’s best for the team, blah blah blah. Shanahan echoed that the existing Shanaplan was to rest and rehabilitate RGIII to his own benefit and in the best interests of the team – to not play him until he is as close to %100 as possible. Case closed. RGIII took part in 11-on-11 team drills for the first time the very next day.
There are a couple of observations to be gleaned from this tiny run-in. Today, as Redskins training camp comes to a close, I see a young star athlete pushing the envelope. A leader dedicated to his team, and his peers inspired by his competitive fire and eagerness to return. On the other side of the coin, the careful and calculating coach who learned his lesson from last year’s playoffs, who understands that his franchise has more hope invested in this player than arguably any other team in the league has banked on one roster spot.
As illustrated, sometimes these tense moments of honesty at the mic can be read as an ego filled tug of war. But in the end, communication, understanding and patience will determine the future of a player, a coach, a franchise and possibly the Sunday afternoon psyche of an entire fan base.