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Redskins' RG3 finds ways to stay grounded

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Photo - Nick Wass/AP
Quarterback Robert Griffin III said it's "not a burden or a hassle" that fans approach him for autographs when he goes out in public.
Nick Wass/AP Quarterback Robert Griffin III said it's "not a burden or a hassle" that fans approach him for autographs when he goes out in public.
Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

ASHBURN -- He's young, wealthy and considered the savior of a popular franchise. He has made big plays and commercials and owns a catchy moniker. In a little more than a year, Robert Griffin III went from college curiosity to Heisman Trophy winner to No. 2 overall pick. No Redskins rookie has arrived with more hype.

Adding to his popularity: He already has delivered on a lot of that promise with 1,993 passing yards and eight touchdowns and another 529 yards rushing and six touchdowns. It could be a lot for a 22-year-old to handle. Except that Griffin says it's no big deal. He keeps people close to him who help him stay grounded: his fiance and his family. Besides, Griffin said, the way he was raised keeps him that way.

"It's just my personality," he said earlier this week in a one-on-one interview at Redskins Park. "It's not hard, but I can see why people would think it is. My dad has been my coach forever, so he'll always say the thing I don't want to hear. That helps you stay grounded as well. And then just the fact that people aren't waiting on you. I don't have maids. I try to make sure I've done things that I've done all the time, whether it's make food or take out the trash. Things of that nature. You keep doing those things to stay grounded.

"You appreciate everything you've done to get to this point, and you appreciate the people that helped you so you'll never feel too big or that people can't tell you anything."

Like his dad.

"He's not Debbie Downer, but he's trying to knock you back down to Earth," Griffin said. "He does do that, and then there are some great games, and he's like, 'You did a good job.' ... He'll just say to keep pushing forward."

Getting away is difficult -- except for the fact that Griffin is content being a homebody. That means lots of movie nights with fiance Rebecca Liddicoat. Or checking out music on the computer -- anything from rhythm and blues to Christian rock to country. Anything but heavy metal.

Going out isn't an option unless he's ready for the extra attention.

"It's the price you have to pay and something I learned at a young age," he said. "I gave up hanging out with friends and doing other things to pull tires and do lunges around tracks. It doesn't sound fun, but it's something that can pay off in the end. I could go out and get hassled or sign autographs or take pictures the whole time. But for me it's more about staying home and getting ready for the next day of work."

That doesn't mean he's a recluse. But it does mean when Griffin wanders out in public, he knows what's going to happen. As he said, it has been a while since he went out and wasn't noticed.

"But to me it's not a burden or a hassle," Griffin said in between bites of, yes, a Subway sub. "If I go out, I'm ready to sign autographs and take pictures because I know what's going to happen."

When he returns to Redskins Park for practice Monday, the task is making sure the offense improves after scoring just 25 points combined in two games. This after spending six of the first seven weeks ranked in the top five in the NFL in scoring.

"At this point there's no need to panic," Griffin said, "but there's definitely a need to have a sense of urgency."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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