Out here in my neck of the woods, if you weren’t watching the Vikings knock off the Jets in nail-biting fashion last Sunday, you were likely watching a matchup between two of the league’s more unremarkable teams, the Redskins and the Rams.
Though there was nothing inherently interesting about the matchup, the game – dubbed the “RG3 Bowl” – featured the winning and losing teams of what is quickly shaping up to be the most lopsided NFL trade since the Vikings sabotaged their future by giving away the farm for Herschel Walker in 1989.
In 2012, to acquire the rights to draft Robert Griffin III, a phenomenal multi-tool quarterback from Baylor, Washington traded a king’s ransom of three first rounders and several later-round picks to the Rams to move up to the second overall pick and take RG3.
During RG3’s first season, he appeared to be worth every last pick they gave up to obtain him. He electrified fans and led the team to its first playoff appearance in half a decade, and the season was emblemized by his 77-yard touchdown run against the Vikings on third down and long.
I attended that game and vividly recall thinking to myself how this quarterback was the most electrifying player I’d ever seen outside of a Madden video game, though this followed my initial reaction of “why do these things always happen to the Vikings?”
By that point, RG3’s popularity had become a cult of personality. 45 minutes after the game ended, a contingent of alcohol-fueled fans – excited their team had found its savior- remained at the stadium chanting “RG3! RG3!” ad nauseum.
That all changed in the wild card playoff game of early 2013, when he suffered a leg injury yet remained in the game, only to aggravate it further in gruesome fashion. Two years later, RG3 has not been able to recover physically and mentally and is a shell of his former self. The incident – which quickly became known as the ‘Mike Shanahan made me play” moment, set off a schism between fans, coaches and players over who is too blame for messing up such a promising career and who should be the team’s starting quarterback moving forward.
At the start of this season, many were calling for former Michigan State standout Kirk Cousins to start over RG3. Due to injuries and ineffective play, this happened soon enough, and when Cousins went down for the season with an injury, third stringer Colt McCoy was brought in to clean up the damage while Robert Griffin remained on the sidelines.
The talk now is that new Redskins coach Jay Gruden wants to cut ties with RG3 altogether, and a feud between him and the ownership that mortgaged the team’s future to acquire him to make the trade.
The St. Louis Rams heaped burning coals on the wound last week, when Coach Jeff Fisher sent out the six active roster players who were acquired with the Redskins’ draft picks out as honorary captains for the coin toss while RG3 rode the Redskins’ bench.
The trade hasn’t reached Herschel Walker proportions quite yet, but it is quickly moving in that direction. With the draft picks the Vikings gave away in the trade, the Cowboys selected players Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland – who quickly became part of the foundation for the team’s dynasty of the early and mid-90s.
The Rams are simply too dysfunctional of a team to pull off that kind of feat with the ransom they extracted for RG3, though they have acquired some good players with their bounty of picks.
But the idiocy of the Redskins’ decision to move ahead with the trade is absolutely on par with that of the Vikings 25 years ago to trade for Walker.