III has been eluding pressure all season -- and not just on the field. (The Washington Post/Getty Images)
For any number of reasons, whatever Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III does these days is guaranteed to make news -- and the slant on that news is rarely positive, whether reality fits the narrative or not. After a rookie season in 2012 where he was seen as the most exciting young quarterback to come down the pike in a good long time, Griffin has been befuddled by a second-year regression that has as much to do with the players around him as it does his own injury-hampered ability to grow as a pure passer.
When he tried to point that out after Washington's 24-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 17, the backlash hit Griffin's own locker room, as receiver Santana Moss wondered why Griffin wasn't taking more accountability for the team's troubles on offense. In the Redskins' 27-6 follow-up loss to the 49ers last Sunday, Griffin's offense was held without a passing or rushing touchdown for the first time in his college or pro career.
After that game, Griffin was visited by his father in the team's locker room, and that's where things started to get silly. As the parents of players aren't often seen in the most private of NFL environs, those most interested in the notion that Griffin is receiving preferential treatment had yet more ammo for their convictions. Robert Griffin II visited his son to talk about the game, and because he thought his son had been injured during the game -- specifically, when he was kicked in the private parts by a San Francisco defender.
On Wednesday, Griffin III went on the offensive against those questioning the presence of Griffin II.
"He showed up, I was shocked that he was there, but he meant no harm," Griffin said, per John Keim of ESPN.com. "Anybody out there that's going after my dad needs to back up. That is my father. I will protect my family and he served 21 years in the military. I know that's not an excuse for anything that he does, but he's not overstepping his bounds. So I hope that people will respect that and back off.
"He asked me if I was OK and I said, 'Yeah, I'm all right.' And me and him just talked and that's it."
After the game, 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks opined that Griffin shouldn't even be playing at this point.
"He's obviously a man and he makes his own decisions, but I personally don’t feel he should be playing right now," Brooks said. "You can see it. Everybody can see it, everybody can see it ... He’s a man, he has the heart of a warrior and is going to go out there and play regardless of the circumstance. Everybody can see it. Everybody can see it. He shouldn’t be playing."
Griffin suffered multiple knee injuries in his rookie campaign and was prevented from working with his offense in the 2013 preseason as he recovered from surgery. He's been under fire on the field all season in Washington's relatively limited offense, and it would seem that defenders are catching up to what he's running.
Griffin seems to understand that this is part of the NFL, but when people started to question his father's intentions, he went off.
"I don't know what all has been said, I just know it hasn't all been positive. He wanted to do his fatherly duties and step in there to see if I was OK."
The 3-8 Redskins hardly resemble the team that recovered from a 3-6 mark in 2012 to win the NFC East. And the new element for Griffin is the kind of criticism that goes beyond the boundaries of the game. Unfortunately, in his case, that's part of the job -- like it or not.