Before Robert Griffin III even opened up the plastic on his new Washington Redskins jersey, local D.C. fans had him pegged for greatness. The author of a brilliant 2011 collegiate season led to a Heisman Trophy for the colorful sock wearing, playmaking signal caller from Baylor University. Griffin’s exploits on Saturdays had college football followers wondering what he could do on NFL Sundays. And once Redskins owner Daniel Snyder authorized a trade to land the second overall pick in mid-March, fans of a floundering franchise began to fantasize.

It had been nearly twenty years since a stable signal caller controlled the reigns of the Washington Redskins. Mark Rypien took his last snap in 1993 and since then over 15 different men have shared the title of Redskins quarterback.

“It’s been embarrassing,” says 28-year-old Redskins fan Brian Holmes. “We’ve gone from royalty to rags and now we’re back on the map with RGIII.”

Currently top 10 in completion percentage and plays over 40-plus yards amongst passers, RGIII has won over fans in just three games as Redskin quarterback. He’s been elusive but exciting; steady but stern and young but experienced.

It’s safe to say Griffin has been more impressive than heralded rookie Andrew Luck, who was taken first overall by the Indianapolis Colts in last spring’s draft. Despite his team’s 1-2 record, not too much negative press has come Griffin’s way. What’s to complain about when the rookie quarterback is guiding the lowly Redskins to more than 30 points per game and has them on the edge of victory every time the burgundy and gold takes the field?

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” says long time Washington fan Chief Honesty Bey. “You’re talking about a guy barley old enough to drink being the clear cut best player on the team. We’re (the Redskins) in every game with him (Griffin) back there and he’s not making mistakes. And even when he does miss a read or throws an interception, we’re (fans) not even mad at him. He has the city by the horns right now and it’s basically nothing he can do wrong. That might change in year two, three and four but he’s the son we never had right now.”

Griffin’s also the quarterback Washington never had. He is a big-armed, big-smile talent who’s invoked impressions of Randall Cunningham and has been even more impressive than last year’s rookie sensation, Cam Newton, was before his inauguration month ended. With his face sprawled on every television commercial and name plastered on the back of every football jersey journeying around the District, Griffin is barely scratching the surface of his hype and potential.

“He’s going to be a legend, seriously,” says Holmes. “We’re not talking about the Pro Bowl or first team All Pro, we’re talking about history. He’s going to be the best quarterback to ever play for the Redskins and at this rate, he may even finish as the best player to ever come out of the franchise.”

And while every fan hasn’t bought into Griffin’s game, it’s hard to knock what he’s done through the NFL season’s first few weeks.

“He’s been great but how will he adjust once teams adjust to him?” cautions Tia Blakeney. “I hope he just stays humble and focuses.”

Love him or just like him, Griffin’s been everything and more that fans and the franchise could’ve ever hoped for. Last season at this time, Washington was 3-1 overall with pundits projecting a playoffs appearance. And while it’s clear at 1-2 overall this season that the team has a lot more work to do, never has the buzz around this team been greater.

Should the Redskins finish with a 1-15 record with Griffin holding the Rookie of the Year trophy in January, the season would be deemed a success in the eyes of many Washingtonians. Because nowadays the team doesn’t even matter. It’s all about Robert Griffin III.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO