Monogamous relationships can be difficult. Picture yourself as an avid fan of your hometown team, or wherever you now call home. That team is your girlfriend, your partner, or your worse half. For many of you, that picture is real life. For the rest of you, if you share any ties with Washington Redskins fans or just about any dismal franchise, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain that monogamous relationship.
For Clevelanders that was the story until LeBron James and Kyrie Irving worked their magic. An historic game 7 changed everything. Millions of Ohio natives called it the best day of their lives. One can only imagine the relief they must feel. That feeling of relief is shared by millions. It is a shared feeling with Robert Griffin III. Yes, the same quarterback whose meteoric rise and subsequent failure in DC left a disgruntled fan to simply make this their license plate:
This license plate existed well before his departure from Washington this past season, which I can attest to given that I have seen this license plate in person. Not only that, but this photograph is from December 2014. Sure, maybe it’s a sign that sports fans are quick to jump on bandwagons and just as quick to jump off of them. It may also be indicative of the feelings of hope and hopelessness that each successive Cleveland Browns quarterback has brought to the team’s devoted fans. One can only hope that no Clevelander has already bought the rights to that license plate, because that would be the epitome of pessimism.
Heck, maybe a year and half of scintillating play- similar to the stretch Tim Tebow had in Denver – is all Browns fans need to hop back on the saddle. If this year can show Cleveland that basketball is not the only sport in town, there is no telling what kind of talent the team will attract. Free agents are no longer chary of Cleveland’s losing ways (thank you, Cavaliers) and can probably see themselves taking a back seat to LeBron James’ heroics. Today’s superstars don’t want the same kind of attention as they used to, and maybe that’s for the best. Luckily for RG3, who is most certainly the kind of guy who shies away from the limelight, the scrutiny of the Browns isn’t exactly on par with that of the Redskins.
Robert Griffin III, a.k.a. RG3 has won the starting quarterback job in Cleveland. Most intelligent people are expecting him to fail, and fail miserably just as every other Browns quarterback has before him. He knows that. You know that. Since we all know I am not one of those intelligent folks, here are the top 15 reasons why RG3 wins with Cleveland.
15. The Josh Gordon You Know
Getting caught three times with alcohol and marijuana have left the Browns and Gordon wishing for a new day. Somehow, his season-long ban has been reduced to a quarter of the season after having been the full sixteen games, and this is the best next-best thing that RG3 could have asked for. What everyone seems to forget is that Gordon was kicked out of Baylor in 2011 after being found with marijuana in his car, having played alongside RG3 in 2010. This is half the reason why people are paying $20 in fantasy football auctions for Gordon: he’s a “badass” that apparently adds flare to a squad, and has the potential to go for 1,200 yards in just 12 games. So, we know Gordon can be suspended again or absolutely stink up the joint, and it will be another reason not to blame Griffin. RG3 wins.
14. Hue “Who?” Jackson
After firing Head Coach Mike Pettine last year, the Browns gave in to the Hue Jackson’s 14 years of NFL coaching experience. Jackson knows the key offensive positions inside-out, as he’s been the wide-receiver, running backs, and quarterbacks coach for a number of NFL teams – including Washington, pre-Robert Griffin III. Here’s what is important to remember, Coach Jackson has been with the worst teams in the NFL and it doesn’t get any lower than the Browns. So, if Griffin doesn’t look good there’s nobody to blame but Hue. When RG3 came in to meet with the Browns before being signed, Jackson was apparently impressed with all of the negatives that Griffin was able to spin into positives regarding his time in Washington. Worst-case scenario: Griffin wins.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers
The theme of Cleveland, as everyone knows, has been that they are spectacularly good at losing. The Cavaliers reassembled a dismal squad and now their success hovers over Cleveland like global warming over planet Earth. There is virtually no pressure on the Browns as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and J.R. Smith’s missing T-shirt are on everyone’s minds. So, Robert Griffin III, thank the Cavs. When RG3 was driving around DC, posters of him were everywhere and his locker was surrounded. Now, when he drives around Cleveland posters and banners of Cavs players will be everywhere similar to the “We are all witnesses” banner that went up before LeBron’s Miami departure. On a side note, the Cleveland Indians are having quite a nice run. So, if they are able to make it into October before the Detroit Tigers catch them, that will mean even less pressure for the Browns.
12. Johnny Manziel
Thank goodness for Johnny Manziel. Okay, I’m being facetious, but he truly set a low bar for Browns quarterbacks and unofficially outlawed the use of social media among Browns players, single-handedly. You can count on the Browns coaching staff and general manager to enforce that rule. If RG3 learned anything from his capricious stint in DC, he won’t touch Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with a ten-foot pole. Last season he concentrated on getting better and being invisible with Washington. Well, there’s no arguing that he succeeded in being invisible, as there has been virtually no media analysis on his promotion to starting quarterback with the Browns. Now if he can allow his finger tips to deliver the ball to Browns pass-catchers instead of typing mundane messages, Griffin wins.
11. Gary Barnidge
After a sensational 2015, Gary Barnidge emerged as an elite tight end in a league with only a handful. If he and RG3 and get themselves on track, there’s no telling what kind of security blanket and red-zone safety net Barnidge could be for the Browns. Barnidge was thrown to by three different quarterbacks last year, and still hauled in 1,043 yards to go along with 9 touchdowns. Think of the latest and greatest tight ends to play in the league, many of whom are now past their prime or have since reached the end. Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez. These TE’s made a name not only for themselves, but for their quarterbacks. Don’t doubt that Barnidge can be on par with those players. If Griffin can get Gary Barnidge the football, Griffin wins.
10. Sliding, Feet First
Every Washington fan knows that RG3 played an idiotically dangerous style of football, especially for a twig like him. If he has learned anything in his years in the NFL, if and when he runs, he is going to be sliding feet first. When he does that, he can stay healthy. At his peak, RG3 was rushing for 50 yards a game and 6 yards per carry. That is a huge boost for a team riddled with offensive failures. His legs are his money-makers, and throwing the ball comes second. He also needs his head. Take it from me, a guy who has had so many concussions that a single beer gives him a headache. RG3 has gotten his bell rung a few times, and if he keeps reaching for the extra yard, head-first, he won’t be in this league for very long. When sliding feet first, Griffin wins.
9. Fantasy Football
If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that Fantasy Football has transcended popular culture. It is it’s own entity with virtually no equal – March Madness is a distant second. RG3 is going to gain millions of fans in September when he puts up points, mostly accumulated from rushing yards. Think of DeSean Jackson, a guy nobody likes as a person due to his shameful misogynistic comments and brainless on-field behavior (not true for RG3). Jackson manages to put up 1,000 yards receiving on a consistent basis, and that’s why people praise him. If RG3 can do something similar without the shenanigans and bigotry, Griffin wins.
8. Scrutiny, or Lack Thereof
The AFC North, a close second behind the AFC South in being the least-scrutinized conference in the NFL (mostly due to fan-base population, performance, and regional proximity). The NFC East, RG3’s former conference, on the other hand includes two of the largest fan-bases in the league (Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants), along with one of the most publicly admonished (Washington Redskins), and the most hated fan-base in the league (Philadelphia Eagles). Without the entire league’s media crowding over him, he’ll have more time to mingle with teammates and enjoy himself. In the quiet AFC North, Griffin wins.
7. Grete Šadeiko
Once married, once separated, RG3 has found a new love. Estonian heptathlete, Grete Šadeiko (you must check out her Instagram) is right on time for Griffin’s new life in Cleveland. He apparently wanted a change from wife Rebecca Liddicoat. According to Šadeiko’s Instagram page, they motivate one another, push one another, and that makes life lovely. Maybe RG3 was feeling a little “Low-T” if you get what I mean. All the more power to him. If all RG3 needed was for a woman to motivate him, Griffin wins.
6. Roger Goodell
For better or worse, the NFL has transformed since Roger Goodell took over. What does that have to do with RG3? Three words: Roughing the passer. Since 2009, the average number of roughing the passer penalties each season per team has jumped nearly 50% from 2.16 in 2009 to 3.19 in 2015 (NFLpenalties.com). If the trend continues, and I can guarantee that it will, RG3 will be protected when he is in the pocket. As long as Goodell continues to build similar levels of hate as Trump, and tries to convince the public that football is in fact a safe game, Griffin wins.
5. Haters Gonna Hate
Never one to shy away from the limelight, Griffin has loved responding to critics. Even the ones on his facebook page. If you take a glance, you’ll see he truly was terrible at responding to these critics of his arm sleeve and glove. The smarter thing would have been to prove himself on the field. Since he couldn’t do that, at the time, responding with his words was the option he took. After his relatively quiet final chapter in Washington, he is apparently healthy and ready to prove his haters wrong. In his April news conference he said, “…I do have a massive chip on my shoulder.” Haters lose, Griffin wins.
4. History of Failure
It hardly requires repeating, but Cleveland franchises and their recently gruntled fans are normalized to losing. The Browns haven’t made the playoffs since 2002 with Tim Couch’s replacement, Kelly Holcomb, under center and have never won twice in the playoffs. We’re not expecting the Browns to make the playoffs by any measure, which is precisely why this history of failure weighs favorably for RG3. If he loses it’s because he’s in Cleveland and is playing for the Browns and not because of his own wrongdoing. Thanks to a history of failure, Griffin wins.
3. The Josh Gordon You Thought You Knew
Which Josh Gordon is this? The mercurial star wideout who has all the skills, talent, and ability to be a franchise player for the Browns? Yes. We know him as the Josh Gordon who has produced nearly 3,000 yards in just 35 games to go along with 14 TDs. He has played only one full season in the league and is still revered by fans everywhere for his play-making abilities. If Gordon and RG3 can get a little bit of chemistry going despite their split at Baylor then here’s a warning to AFC North defenses, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., and Antonio Brown. The Gordon we thought we knew can produce. Griffin wins.
2. “No Pressure, No Diamonds”
“I’m not trying to let any baggage hold me down from the past,” Griffin said in his April news conference with the Browns. His baggage is what will allow him to win. RG3 has so much to prove to so many people, most importantly to himself. That said, Griffin quoted Thomas Carlyle, a 19th century Scottish historian and essayist: “No pressure, no diamonds.” What does this mean? It means unless you have competition, nobody will ever reach perfection. Thank goodness Josh McCown is right behind him as the back-up quarterback. We’re not saying McCown is going to light a fire under whoever is in front of him, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that McCown was playing at a 4,200 passing yard – 28 TD, 8 INT pace last season. Griffin wins.
1. God Apparently No Longer Hates Cleveland
We all know that God controls everything in life, right? Well, not completely. The ‘God Hates Cleveland’ mantra became stale a decade and a half ago, and thank God it’s over. Now that Clevelanders and Cleveland-based athletes can have faith in themselves to win at anything, all doors to success have been opened. Let’s just hope they don’t become the new Boston, or New England.“I know the history a little bit of Cleveland and guys sometimes don’t want to come here,” Griffin said in his April news conference. “I wanted to come here and I wanted them to know that. They call this ‘The Land’ so we’re going to make this ours and really give these fans what they deserve.” As long as Cleveland is no longer hated by God, Griffin wins.
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