Frustrated that a quote about striving to be the NFL's best quarterback was taken out of context, Robert Griffin III said Tuesday that his name “keeps getting used for headlines.”
The Washington Redskins quarterback drew heavy scrutiny for his comment given his struggles with injuries and on-field performance the past two seasons.
But Griffin insisted the full context of his words was ignored by most who wrote about it.
“I know what I meant. I think everyone in this circle knows what I meant,” Griffin told a small group of reporters after practice at Redskins Park. “And it's unfortunate that my name keeps getting used for headlines for people to click on stories. But I know what I want to be, I know what I strive to be and I'm not going to make any apologies for that.”
Despite a dislocated ankle that kept him off the field for six games and a late-season benching in 2014, Griffin was named the starter for the upcoming season in February. The Redskins also picked up his fifth-year option for 2016 and hired a quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh, to work with him.
“I feel like I'm the best quarterback in the league and I have to go out and show that,'' Griffin told WJLA in an interview. “Any athlete at any level, if they concede to someone else, they're not a top competitor, they're not trying to be the best that they can be.''
The part of Griffin's quotation that drew less attention: “There's guys in this league that have done way more than me, but I still view myself as the best because that's what I work toward every single day.”
Several Redskins teammates backed Griffin and said they want their quarterback to play with that level of confidence.
“You have to think you're the best,” receiver Pierre Garcon said. “You have to continue to work hard as the best. You have to go out there and play hard and prove it every day. Nobody has to agree with you. You just have to believe in yourself and work hard at it.”
Griffin originally was scheduled to speak to reporters Tuesday for the first time since last Thursday's exhibition game against Cleveland. Then the Redskins canceled Griffin's appearance after the firestorm over his comments in the TV interview, before team officials relented after the QB had a discussion with PR staff. Griffin made a statement, though he did not take questions about the interview.
Asked about Griffin's comments using the phrase “best quarterback in the league,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “Whether he is or not, that's the way he feels, and Robert has high goals for himself. And I don't fault anybody having high goals for themselves. We don't want anybody to strive to be average. But the key thing that he said is he's got to go out and prove it. We've all got to go out and prove it.”