April 28, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III leaves the field after speaking to fans during the Redskins introduction of Robert Griffin III at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE
Now that the unprecedented pre-draft excitement around Robert Griffin III has come and gone, it's time for him to do the hard part: End the Redskins' twenty year quarterback carousel.
LANDOVER, Md. - Even Robert Griffin III himself was in disbelief.
Standing on stage at FedEx Field, the freshly minted Washington Redskins quarterback -- wearing a burgundy tie and a pair of matching socks -- gazed into a sea of nearly twenty thousand fans, all of whom were chanting his initials, "R-G-3". He then looked to his left, where his family was standing, and mouthed three words: Oh my gosh.
Fans traveled to the Redskins' home stadium in Landover, Maryland on Saturday to greet the franchise's newest beacon of hope. The event was the climactic moment in what has been a nearly two-month-long build-up to Griffin's drafting.
Apart from his on-field talents, it doesn't take much to see why the former Heisman winner out of Baylor is already beloved by both Redskins fans and NFL fans around the nation. He's got charisma. He's got endorsement deals. He's in commercials. He interacts with celebrities on Twitter. He wears goofy socks.
So by the time Griffin ran out of the south tunnel at Fed Ex Field Saturday, he'd already gone from cult-hero to something much, much more.
"It's definitely been crazy," he said. "Some call it a whirlwind. A lot of cameras, a lot of people that want to talk to me and ask me questions."
The Redskins have certainly had star players in the past. But it's hard to recall a time when they had someone with as much widespread appeal as Griffin.
And to think, he's yet to take an NFL snap.
But now that the pre-draft buzz has finally come and gone, Griffin can now concentrate on the task at hand. That task? Oh yeah, ending a twenty-year-long vicious cycle of inept quarterback play. As great as his charisma is, that alone won't make Griffin's challenge any less difficult.
"I try not to take the weight of the past 20 years on my own shoulders," he said. "I've definitely seen the struggles the team has gone through, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. They drafted me to try to be the solution to that problem, and I plan on being the solution."
The journey to being the solution to that problem will start in earnest next weekend, when the Redskins will host a three day rookie mini-camp.
How quickly can he learn Mike and Kyle Shanahan's playbook? Will be able to adjust to playing in a pro-style system? Can he earn the trust of the coaching staff and his teammates along the way? How quickly will he develop into a leader? Those will be among the key questions and storylines from this point forward for Griffin, who will spend the next four months working to be named the starting quarterback for the September 9 game against the New Orleans Saints.
"I just hope that [my teammates] know that I'm here to work," he said. "It's not all about show. You can never walk up to a 30-year-old man when you're 22 and tell him what to do. You have to earn his respect, so I just want them to know that I'm here to work and I'm ready to help this team win."
The Redskins believe they've made strides in building a more competitive team around Griffin. And while he certainly can't do it alone, it's no secret that the rest of the 2012 offseason and regular season for Washington will revolve around Griffin's development.
So after the all the unprecedented hype and anticipation, the Redskins are hoping the real fun is about to play out on the football field.
"They're relying on me," Griffin acknowledged. "That's what Dan Snyder told me. They're relying on me, and I like to be relied on because I feel like I can help in any way possible."