Thom Loverro: Redskins' history leads to expecting worst with RG3

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The Washington Redskins -- never one to pass up a marketing opportunity -- should consider selling branded RGIII blindfolds to their fans, complete with the Redskins' logo.

From the reaction about the knee injury to rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and the chances of him lining up under center in Cleveland against the Browns, many Redskins fans may need blindfolds to watch.

It's just to painful to think of an NFL quarterback -- at least this NFL quarterback -- in harm's way.

Coming off a knee sprain in the win over Baltimore, the debate of whether or not RGIII should play raged all week -- not just in Washington but throughout the country. It's part of a bigger debate about the danger this young man puts himself in by the way he plays.

We are watching the start of perhaps the greatest playmaker of his time, and some Redskins fans would rather embrace the promise of what he could be rather than let him be who he is.

So they watch him win games like he did against the Ravens, leading the Redskins to a 7-6 record, with their hands over their eyes, expecting the worst to happen.

It's an irrational fear, but one founded in several decades of watching the worst happen.

It's rooted in watching the Redskins draft the top-rated quarterback in 1994, Heath Shuler -- selected by offensive genius and quarterback guru Norv Turner -- only to discover he couldn't grasp NFL offenses.

It's rooted in watching the Redskins put together an all-star team in 2000, only to watch it dysfunctionally fail, sending the franchise into a decade-long spiral.

Those were the days when success was still considered a possibility.

It's rooted in welcoming back the most beloved figure in franchise history -- Joe Gibbs -- for a second stint to save the franchise, only to watch four mediocre seasons with two forgettable playoff appearances.

Success? Not this team. Not these fans. Not this city.

It goes beyond the Redskins. The Capitals became the darlings of the city, led by a star who had been the most exciting player in hockey, Alex Ovechkin. Yet the team has had one disappointing quick postseason exit after another, and the engaging Russian star who made the fans proud had taken a step back the last we saw him.

The Nationals gave life to the city this season with a great season, winning the National League East, only to produce one of the epic failures in postseason history in Game 5 against the Cardinals.

The Wizards? That team would scare the power of positive thinking out of Tony Robbins. Believe in success? The one-time red-carpet rookie phenom John Wall can't get back on the court with a mysterious knee issue.

Failure is the expectation. Success is the surprise.

This kid, though, feels different. He's like nothing we've seen before.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner