Yes, he’s only played one professional football game, and yes, the cases for his extraordinariness and ordinariness have been made and made and made, and yes, I’m a fan of his, but still, Robert Griffin III continues to impress.
Often, we are able to view an athlete’s greatness directly. Such has been the case for Griffin, who previously played major-conference college football and now plays in the NFL. Other times, we are able to detect evidence of an athlete’s greatness indirectly. Those times may be tougher to identify, but they also may be more illuminating and demonstrative of greatness.
If you just pulled your head out of your old pile of Sports Illustrated for Kids and haven’t really paid attention to the NFL over the last ten years, you might not realize that Griffin’s current head coach, Mike Shanahan, doesn’t really have a great reputation these days. In particular, he’s got a bad one for ruining quarterbacks. Just ask Donovan McNabb.
That’s why one of the most amazing results of RG3’s stellar debut on Sunday has been the evaporation of anti-Shanahan sentiment in the media. Far from destroying the great potential Griffin represents, Shanahan installed a plan that is being called “brilliant” and “beaut[iful]” and a lot of other nice things around the web.
Should things continue along the path Griffin started down on Sunday, the redemption of Mike Shanahan won’t be RG3’s greatest accomplishment, but it might be one of his most telling. At the very least, it will tell us what we knew all along: it’s the players who ultimately make the coach, not the other way around.