This is my favorite story of the day, by a factor of (RG)3.
Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who was fired amid controversy and disgrace in late 2013 after butting heads with Robert Griffin III and his BFF Dan Snyder, basically ending the young quarterback’s career in Washington (and possibly beyond), told D.C’s ESPN 980 that he got a recent thank-you call from Griffin after the coach apparently put in a good word for him during RG3’s free-agent search this month.
Shanahan said he and Rams coach Jeff Fisher were chatting when Shanahan, apparently unsolicitedly, starting talking up the virtues of the quarterback he wanted to bench in 2013, presumably because RG3 wasn’t John Elway and Shanahan couldn’t ride his coattails to a title. Then, according to Shanahan, Griffin called to thank him. Oh, where to begin:
1. This story is coming completely from Shanahan, who can finesse the truth like some of Washington’s all-time greats, like Bill Clinton. I asked someone who covers the ‘Skins whether he thinks this call happened exactly as Shanny tells it and he responded 10 seconds later: “hahahaha.”
2. The story Shanahan tells of giving tough love to Griffin, the quarterback he all but gave an atomic wedgie to while sticking his head in a flushing toilet after Griffin came back too quickly from injury in Week 1 of the 2013 season.
“I said, ‘Robert, I believe this. I’d be more than happy to talk to all the guys. Have them give me a call on your behalf. I was with you when we did some things nobody else has ever done and you still have that opportunity if you want to go that direction. If you don’t, then I think you’re going to struggle.’ “
Prefacing comments with “I believe this” is the surest sign one doesn’t believe something. It’s right up there with “let me be honest” and “no, I love the haircut.”
3. “Robert called me and wanted to thank me for saying such nice things,” Shanahan told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro. As Shanahan tells it, the conversation with Fisher was pretty much “Yeah, you could take him,” which is hardly a glowing endorsement.
4. Shanahan says he also told Griffin to go to a team with the right fit. Oh you think, doctor? Other advice given: Look both ways before you cross the street, don’t eat the gas station sushi and never exceed the maximum time in a tanning bed.
5. Does Shanahan want to coach again? He gives a non-denial denial to the answer which totally means he’s looking to coach and this is his goodwill tour. It’s like he’s hitting the campaign trail. Next he’ll be kissing babies which, odds are, will belong to Antonio Cromartie. Shanahan would be the league’s second-oldest coach and has won a single playoff game since Elway retired. The market for him will be about as hot as it was for Griffin.
6. “I know there’s a lot of things out there that come across negative,” Shanahan says he told Fisher of Griffin, apparently confused as to why anyone would ever say or think such things. He then registered to become a GOP presidential candidate.
7. The best part of the interview was the first half, which didn’t make headlines, when Shanahan was talking up Kirk Cousins like he was the second coming of Peyton Manning. It was amazing. He was talking about Super Bowls, being too smart to play football and how if the Redskins lock up Cousins for a long-term deal, it’ll be the best move the franchise has ever made (besides hiring Shanahan, of course). The insinuation: “Yeah, remember that guy I drafted in the third round even though we traded a king’s ransom for Griffin? Right, the guy I loved? The guy I wanted to nurture? Well he’s phenomenal. Now, call my agent and we’ll talk specifics.”
8. Just about a year ago, Shanahan went on the same D.C. radio show and said that Griffin “can’t be the sharpest guy” to come to “me, a veteran coach” and say he wants to be a drop-back passer. Yet it’s universally agreed that Griffin can’t continue to play the same offense he did his rookie season (and to compare him to Russell Wilson, whose offense looks nothing like the one Griffin ran in 2012, is absurd). Again, from last year:
“The only chance that this kid, Robert, has to get to the level that we need him to get to is for him to at least trust us that we’re going to run the offense that gives him the best chance to be successful. And if not, it’s impossible, because he’s not ready for it. I can see it, that he’s not ready for that type of offense. Not that he’s not good enough, he just has never done it before.”