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December 6, 2012

NFL: Hall of Fame adds to busy week for Redskins' RG3

ASHBURN, Va. — Robert Griffin III's week so far has consisted of his first Monday night football win, hearing fans chant his RG3 nickname throughout the Washington Wizards' Tuesday upset of the Miami Heat, and a Wednesday visit from an official who collected the rookie quarterback's jersey and cleats for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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"He's a unifying figure in the community,'' right guard Chris Chester said. "I might need to bring him to my son's T-ball games.''

Seriously, Griffin can seem to do no wrong these days. Even Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who is hardly the easiest guy to impress, confesses to being mightily impressed by Griffin's charisma.

"He kind of surprises me in almost every situation, on how well he handles himself and how well he communicates,'' Shanahan said. "I wish I could communicate like that. I'm going to have him talk to the team - in fact, I have the last couple of weeks.''

Griffin has led the Redskins (6-6) on a three-game winning streak that has Washington and closing in on first place in the NFC East heading into Sunday's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. He broke Cam Newton's NFL single-season rushing record for yards rushing by a rookie quarterback during Monday night's 17-16 win over the New York Giants, thus prompting the Hall to request his cleats and dirt-stained No. 10 jersey.

"Everyone wants to be in the Hall of Fame,'' Griffin said, "so we're in there. But I've got a long career, preferably, and this is only the first step. It's an honor to have my jersey and cleats, although they're very dirty, in the Hall of Fame.''

But, by now, everyone knows Griffin is more than numbers. He practically upstaged the Heat-Wizards game when he took his front-row seat to roars from the crowd in the first quarter. Sure enough, a Washington team that had won only one game previously all season stunned the reigning NBA champions.

"What can you say? Those guys are the ones who played. I didn't play the game,'' Griffin said. "Even Coach said I can't go over there rubbing off, using all my magic on those guys when we need it for us.''

Such attention can be overwhelming for most 22-year-olds, but Griffin can handle it.

"It's humbling to have the fans, whether it's football fans, basketball fans, chanting or cheering for you,'' Griffin said. "It means you're really doing something for the city.''

So, cornerback DeAngelo Hall was asked, is there anything Griffin can't do?

"Beat me in the 40,'' said Hall, a brave statement considering Griffin was a college hurdles champion. "Don't tell him that, though. He's got young legs, so he might think he can get me.''

"The kid's special,'' Hall added. "He's on the verge of being a rock star. We used to travel with Mike Vick when I was in Atlanta, and it was definitely a rock-star-type atmosphere wherever he went. And RG is having that same kind of following.

"When we were in Dallas, we saw people who had on Redskins gear and jerseys, and asked them, `You all Redskins fans?' `Nah.' `You hate the Cowboys?' `Nah. Just love RG.' `All right. We'll take it.'

"And that's kind of how it's been. Guys might not like the Redskins, but they love him. They love him personally. ... Or just like the excitement he brings to the game. People like him. Fans like him. And we're getting that reciprocating effect as far as Redskins teammates being able to get - wherever we go, whatever city we go to - people in the stands cheering for us. Whether they're cheering his name or cheering for us in general, he has that following.''

 

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