I was disappointed when the Redskins knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs last night. But I confess that—even though I’m a Cowboys fan—I’m finding it hard not to pull for Robert Griffin III. He’s a phenomenal talent, but there is much more to him than that.
In an interview yesterday with The Washington Post, he gives us a glimpse into how he took the reins of leadership on his team and how he became a team captain as a rookie (virtually unheard of). It’s a story of leadership, character, and humility. It’s a case-study of proverbial wisdom fleshed-out in the life of a 22-year old.
Young men, take heed of the example here. King Solomon said it this way: “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself If his conduct is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11). The lesson is this. You don’t become a person of significance by running your mouth. Put your hand over your mouth and “be an example among those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12). The old adage is right. Actions speak louder than words.
I recommend that you read the entire interview, but here are some highlights:
“My strategy was to come in and try to lead by example first. Being a rookie, you don’t want to come in talking right away. You can rub a lot of guys the wrong way. .?.?. One thing you can’t do as a leader is come out and say you’re the leader.”
By this point in training camp, Griffin had become well known around Redskins Park as the first to arrive each morning and the last to leave each evening.
“I made sure I showed up early. I stayed late. I worked hard in practice,” Griffin said. “I brought a different type of attitude to practice than they were used to, [a feeling that] every day is a game day. There were some feisty practices between the offense and the defense — just a lot of chirping and a lot of intensity, which is something [teammates] said they hadn’t experienced before. So I just tried to bring that attitude, and then let the game play speak for itself.”
Griffin surprised teammates — most of whom only knew of him as the flashy college superstar and ace pitchman for Gatorade, Subway, Adidas and Nissan — by being overwhelmingly unassuming and humble.
“When I first met him, we were passing on the stairs [at Redskins Park], and he stopped me and said, ‘I’m Robert Griffin III. I’m the quarterback they drafted in the first round,’?” recalled fullback Darrel Young. “I just looked at him and thought, ‘Yep, we’re going to be just fine here. This kid is as humble as they come.'”
Griffin led the Redskins on a potential game-winning drive in the final minutes that flamed out when wide receiver Josh Morgan threw the ball at opponent, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. As the final seconds counted down on a crushing loss, Morgan sat alone on the Redskins’ bench, with his teammates staying far away — until Griffin came over, patted him on the head and whispered something in his ear.
“He just told me to keep my head up and keep going,” Morgan recalled. “Yeah, it did mean a lot to me. He didn’t have to do that. With all the hype and anticipation, you think one thing about him. But then you see him, and he’s a normal kid — a normal kid with a big heart.”
Griffin didn’t do it to prove his leadership skills. Few people even saw it happen. He did it because he thought Morgan could use a lift, because he would need Morgan’s confidence again later, because it felt like the right thing to do.
“Sometimes people think it’s what you say when you’re in a huge group that makes you a leader,” Griffin said. “But sometimes it’s the one-on-one conversations you have with guys individually, just getting to know them. I think I’ve done that a lot. Not intentionally — it just happens.”
(HT: Jim Hamilton)