The incredible rise of Robert Griffin III
"Hope and change" once defined an inspiring young leader who promised to transform Washington, who vowed to bring optimism back to a cynical community mired in the muck of partisanship and corruption. And today, those words still encapsulate how Washingtonians feel about the man we're counting on to lead us back to the Promised Land.
This time, of course, it's not Obama, who certainly fell short on his promise to deliver both hope and change. I'm speaking, instead, about the Washington Redskins' electrifying rookie quarterback Robert Lee Griffin III — more commonly known as RG3.
Feared by opponents, venerated by teammates, and beloved by fans, RG3 has become the biggest celebrity in Washington. The buzz is so prevalent that even Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have taken notice.
"RG3 hasn't been in Washington very long, but he's already created change," Romney said in a video that aired on Fox. (Watch it below.) "RG3 has really struck a chord with sports fans — uniting Democrats and Republicans."
"He's a great young man, and a heck of a lot of fun to watch," Obama says in the video. "And I wish him all the luck in the world, except when he plays the Bears… Robert, you're welcome at my house for a pickup game anytime."
Talk about bipartisanship!
There's a reason RG3 is uniting Washingtonians of all political stripes. He's not only the quarterback the city wants — he is the quarterback D.C. needs, the change we've been waiting decades for.
The Redskins were once one of the most successful teams in the NFL. But since legendary Super Bowl-winning coach Joe Gibbs' first retirement in the early 1990s, the team has been wandering aimlessly in the wilderness, reduced to a mere punchline in the ferocious NFC East.
Loyal fans never quit hoping for a savior. They waited as veterans like Donovan McNabb gave them but brief glimpses of former glory.
Fans were admirably patient as highly touted youths like Jason Campbell withered under the intense pressures of being an NFL quarterback in what is decidedly a football town. (Don't let any Nationals fans tell you any different.)
Over years and years, fans waited and waited while their beloved Redskins became an afterthought, an irrelevant tenant of the most relevant city in the world. For far too many years, the Washington Redskins were inconsequential.
Not anymore. RG3 is the most exciting quarterback in football, and might just be the league's MVP — if not this year, then almost certainly in a future season.
Griffin has made the Redskins competitive again. Their 3-4 record belies the fact that they have lost those four games by a total of 21 points. They have had chances for victory well into the fourth quarter of all of their losses.
Washington fans are once again hopeful. They cheer louder. They root harder. And they sing "Hail to the Redskins" with more pride than they have had in a long time.
And lest we forget: The Redskins were the last professional football team to integrate black players, refusing to do so until bowing to federal government pressure in 1962. "We'll start signing Negroes," Redskins owner George Preston Marshall reportedly quipped, "when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites."
Today, the Redskins are seized by hope and inspired by the promise of change. And they're led by an amazing young African-American man the entire city admires, both on and off the field. Change has indeed come to Washington.