Rick Snider: Throwing in the (free) towel on Robert Griffin III wedding gift controversy

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Many a fan has bragged of the time they bought a beer for a pro ballplayer. The athlete didn't ask for free suds. The fan was just happy to do so, and many years later, he still tells the tale.

So why the nonsensical furor over fans buying quarterback Robert Griffin III wedding gifts on store registries for his coming nuptials? Fans want to do it and Griffin never asked.

What's Griffin supposed to do -- give it back? Disappoint fans by donating the swag to charity? That would be an insult.

Haters need to get a life. Sure, Griffin can buy this own towels or tea servings. But that's not the point. The public loves celebrities and wishes for a chance to be part of their lives, even in some distant way. It makes fans happy to send gifts, so let them be happy.

A decade ago, when I was going through a serious medical crisis, I resisted nurses helping me. I didn't want to bother them. Finally, someone explained that helping patients was nurses' way of finding fulfillment in their job. By denying them that opportunity, I was being selfish. It suddenly made sense and I let people do their jobs. It made them happy, just like fans giving something to Griffin.

For those saying fans should donate money to charity rather than give something to a rich player, I simply reply, who's to tell people what to do with their own money? It's their business and no one else's. Leave it alone.

This controversy is a very interesting and potentially defining juncture in Griffin's relationship with the public. While certainly a great talent, Griffin has only played 15 games and lost a playoff game by not being honest with himself or his coach over being hurt.

Redskins fans desperate for a franchise player have elevated Griffin to legendary status. The public can't get enough of him, so giving gifts is natural. And Griffin is not the first player to get gifts from fans.

But here's the concern: Do the gifts give Griffin an inflated ego? Make him feel entitled after a lifetime of being the best player on his team? This could be a problem. It's not yet. He's a great guy, but people change under these conditions, especially young players overwhelmed by fame and fortune.

Griffin's caught in a tough spot here. He couldn't designate a charity for fans to donate money rather than buy gifts, because then he would be asking for money. It's a no-win scenario. Now it's too late to do anything, so it's best to just let fans do what they want and worry about something more important, like helping Oklahoma tornado victims, than Griffin getting gifts.

Fans should let Griffin develop his great potential before planning his 2030 enshrinement in Canton. Let him earn this adulation over time through victories, not marketing.

Meanwhile, a free set of towels isn't changing the world.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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