Rick Snider: Hype of Griffin reaches new heights for Redskins

By |
Sports,NFL,Redskins,Rick Snider
It took only moments for the marketing machine to begin.

Robert Griffin III enters Washington as the Redskins' most celebrated draft pick ever. Bigger than quarterback Heath Shuler in 1994. More so than Sean Taylor in 2004, LaVar Arrington in 2000 and Michael Westbrook in 1995. Jason Campbell in 2005 isn't even in the same solar system.

Griffin posed with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, holding a Redskins jersey with "Griffin III" on the back mere minutes after he was selected. Moments later, the team sent emails offering Griffin gear and announcing he'll appear Saturday at FedEx Field.

It's not surprising. The team has been readying for this moment for weeks.

Desmond Howard may be the only rival to the buzz Griffin has seen. The Heisman Trophy receiver arrived as the fourth pick in 1992 and was expected to follow Art Monk and Gary Clark as the team's playmaker. Too bad he was a bust in Washington.

Ernie Davis was a big deal in 1962 as the Heisman winner out of Syracuse and the team's first black player. But the Redskins traded Davis to Cleveland after agreeing to do so before the draft so the euphoria was short lived.

Sammy Baugh, chosen sixth in 1937, was heavily promoted by the Redskins. Fans soon adored the Texan who arguably was the team's greatest player ever. But this was a time before TV, much less the internet. What seemed like highly touted back then would be a whisper in the wind today.

Griffin is absolutely the most-hyped player ever drafted by Washington. It's the perfect storm. Social media was absent during past top draft picks. Griffin plays the most important position in sports. And the Redskins are desperate for someone to revive a franchise that has been mostly awful for 20 years.

Griffin's charisma certainly fuels the hype. The marketing machine and fans merged in March so it has been six weeks of breathlessly awaiting the draft.

If Griffin didn't come to Washington it would have been an all-time stunner. He'll mean at least 10,000 fans per game will show up to FedEx Field next year no matter the team's record. The Redskins had to take him.

That Griffin plays the marquee position and should start the season makes him even bigger than Howard, who didn't play much his first season. Howard caught only three passes as a rookie while returning 22 kicks and six punts. Griffin will have more touches in the first half of the opening game than Howard did all season.

Now that Griffin finishes ahead of Baugh as most heavily hyped drafted player, let's see if he can match the latter's NFL championship as a rookie.

No pressure -- just all eyes on Griffin's every move.

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

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Rick Snider

Sports columnists
The Washington Examiner