Rick Snider: The long wait for Redskins' RG3 is over

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Rick Snider

At this point, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's debut seems long overdue.

Fans have been waiting to see the Heisman Trophy winner take the field in a regular-season game since March, when Washington paid three first-round picks and a second-rounder for his draft rights. The preseason was simply a tease; he threw only 31 passes and didn't play in the final game.

The Griffin era that will define the franchise's next decade truly begins at the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The rookie will try not to get too "crunk." He will include Michael Jackson on his pregame playlist and just hope his confidence overrides the chaos.

"The coaches talk to me about it. 'Don't try to go out and show anything or prove anything. Just go out and play and have fun,'?" Griffin said. "I think that's the kind of approach I'm taking toward it rather than 'OK, now it's time to show what I've got.' It's just a matter of going out and executing."

Griffin hasn't seemed any more intense in recent days than he was during spring OTAs. He's just one of those guys who says "It's cool" to everything.

"Everybody gets nervous," Griffin said. "But you do try to stay calm. And I have to stay calm. I can't go in there and stumble on my words or be too excited in the huddle with those guys. I try to make sure I keep an even keel."

His teammates will be watching. They sometimes marvel how the RGIII persona seen in TV commercials never appears in the locker room. Other than joking about getting some free subs, the Redskins have quickly embraced the new passer. There's no jealousy about the big contract or high expectations for someone who hasn't played a regular-season game.

Griffin's leadership skills are rather refined for a rookie. Within days of being drafted, Griffin called his teammates just to say hello. But he left the veterans alone during the late June vacation break. Griffin gained their respect mostly with his confidence.

"The way I approach it," he said, "is to stay calm and make sure you walk in the huddle with confidence so the guys are confident with what you're running and go from there. I know what I'm supposed to be doing. They know what they're supposed to be doing. Just go out there and do it."

Griffin's boyhood dream wasn't to play in the NFL. During the Olympics, he sighed as he talked about sprinters he knew competing in London, seemingly wishing he could be hurdling in the games instead. Basketball was his other passion. Football only became his destiny after he won two state high school titles.

With his family ties to New Orleans, Griffin joked of paying for only seven of the 30 to 50 relatives who are attending because the rest were Saints fans. They will see their kin realize a somewhat short journey to the NFL.

"I've stayed true to who I am," he said. "and I've made sure that I've continued to do stuff that helped me be successful."

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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