Anyone criticizing Robert Griffin III for saying he believes he’s the best quarterback in the NFL has never played in the NFL – or, for that matter, sports in general. Athletes have to believe they’re the best, especially at this level. Say as much, however, and the comment is completely overblown and the athlete is mocked, if not altogether vilified.
How do athletes navigate these social-media land mines? Do they try to be open and honest, or do they just try to give the pat answer, toe the company line and avoid controversy?
“A lot of organizations coach you to just (toe) the company line,” Fox Sports NFL analyst Brady Quinn said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “We don’t want any distractions, we don’t want to have anything become more than what it is. A lot of beat reporters just hang around the locker room trying to listen for guys to hear something they say in casual conversation because a lot of teams are pretty good at doing that by now. It’s kind of tough because as a player – once you get to a certain point – you’d like to be able to speak on what you believe and things you feel passionate about. But unfortunately, social media and the media in general kind of concerns you as a player. So it’s crazy to see how that’s become the way our society is.
“I look at what RG3 said, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Quinn continued. “Everyone has to be a legend in their own mind. If they want to make it to the NFL, that’s the kind of confidence you need. What’s the point of him going out there and being like, ‘No, you know what? I want to be mediocre. I don’t feel like I’m the best today. I’m an average quarterback in the NFL.’ You think that’s going to make it? You think that’s going to actually win you a Super Bowl or turn things around for Washington? Heck no. That’s not what actually got him to the point where he was drafted No. 2 overall, where he had so much success in college. His confidence was everything.
“I don’t care what position you’re going to be playing in the NFL. (Look) at cornerback. Those guys are out there all by themselves. They’re probably the cockiest player on the field. They have to be – because they guard a wide receiver one-on-one, and eventually they’re going to get beat. They just got to hope that the one time they get beat the quarterback’s not looking their way and he’s looking to the other side. I just couldn’t imagine any cornerback not having that type of mentality of thinking they’re the best in the game. That’s what you have to think. That’s how you have to view yourself. Otherwise you don’t stand a fighting chance because everyone’s too good around you.
“Everyone else is going to carry that same exact confidence in order to push themselves to the limits – or, if you’re a quarterback, throw that ball in that tight window. You have to believe you’re going to be able to make it through, that you’ve got enough arm or you’re accurate enough to make it through in order to get the completion or the conversion on third down.”