Griffin a pawn in Redskins’ mess

12/21/2013 10:24 PM

11/12/2014 3:30 PM

Handsome and articulate — and with a Heisman Trophy to show as plunder for his college years — Baylor’s Robert Griffin III appeared to be on one of life’s all-time winning streaks.

And then he was drafted by Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins.

And you think Jerry Jones drives you crazy?

Consider the faithful followers of the NFL’s Washington team, which brings a 3-11 record and little else into its showdown Sunday with Jones’ playoff-desperate Dallas Cowboys.

Owner Jones may be meddlesome, but Snyder’s presence in the owner’s booth has been routinely depicted as defiant and toxic. Jones wanders through the NFL forest, bumping into trees. Snyder deforests everything in his path, and then still stumbles anyway.

In 14 years as Redskins owner, Snyder has had seven head coaches, and the D.C. talk shows are speculating that the latest one, Mike Shanahan, may not make it through the weekend.

In the throes of a forgettable season, Griffin, an apparent favorite of the owner, has become a pawn in some sort of Shanahan two-minute Russian Roulette drill. He has shut down Griffin for the season. Snyder is about to do the same to Shanahan.

Owner Jones is the Cowboys’ president and general manager. Snyder, like some Third World dictator, appears to be the Redskins’ Owner for Life.

Cowboys fans are at wit’s end over the once-proud franchise’s 17-year playoff struggles. Washington has won only one postseason game since Snyder’s first season, 1999.

Since the start of that ’99 season, the Cowboys have posted a 119-119 regular season record heading into Sunday’s contest. Snyder’s Washington team is 104-134.

The Cowboys have had five losing seasons in those 14 years. The Redskins have had eight.

For the second week in a row, Shanahan will start Kirk Cousins at quarterback in place of Griffin. The Cowboys, however, have to know better than to pooh-pooh another backup quarterback. They have lost to stand-ins two weeks in a row.

A playoff berth remains a distinct possibility for Dallas. Washington, meanwhile, losers of six in a row, will be playing Sunday for ... what, exactly?

For Shanahan’s job? For Griffin’s honor? For the chance to say they ruined the Cowboys’ season?

This used to be called Dallas Week on every Redskins fan’s calendar. Now, like our cab driver from the airport, they’re counting down the days to Nationals’ spring training baseball. He seemed more excited about new pitcher Doug Fister than the benched Griffin.

So, has the disastrous season been Snyder’s fault or Shanahan’s? Is RG3 really hurt, or just a pawn in an ugly feud between the owner and his head coach?

When he played at AT&T Stadium back in October, Griffin looked every bit like a quarterback who had missed the off-season and was still recovering from knee surgery. With Washington’s season officially in the dumpster, Shanahan suggested that the prudent thing to do was shut down the Baylor ex and make certain he’s completely healthy for 2014.

That all makes sense if, indeed, Griffin still isn’t 100 percent. But why all the drama? Why whisper to the Redskins’ media that RG3 was complaining about his “bad plays” being included in the Monday film reviews (after Baylor’s Art Briles routinely edited them out)?

If, as some have suspected, Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator and son of the head coach, was behind that dirty little news scoop, no wonder RG3 isn’t a happy camper.

It’s hard to imagine Briles would want any part of this. But for Snyder, coach No. 8 appears imminent.

Are the 2013 Redskins spoilers or just spoiled milk?

Will it even matter Sunday for the Cowboys?

About Gil LeBreton

Gil LeBreton


Gil LeBreton has been entertaining and informing Star-Telegram readers for more than 34 years. He worked for newspapers in his hometown of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Kansas City and Baltimore before finding his true home in Texas. Over the years he's covered 25 Super Bowls, 16 Olympic Games (9 summer, 7 winter), soccer's World Cup, the Masters, the Tour de France, saw Muhammad Ali box, Paul Newman drive a race car and Prince Albert try to steer a bobsled.

A Vietnam veteran, Gil and his wife Gail have two children -- J.P., a computer game designer in San Francisco, and Elise, an actress living in New York. Gil also once briefly held the WBC Junior Welterweight title belt -- he had to, because the guy he was interviewing, champ Bruce Curry, had to suddenly step into the men's room.

Email Gil at

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