Commentary

Griffin off to super start

Updated: October 3, 2012, 2:54 PM ET
By Rick Reilly | ESPN.com

Robert Griffin IIIManny Flores/Icon SMIAfter one NFL game, Robert Griffin III has a win, a Player of the Week award and a signature move, called "Griffining."

On the upper shelves of Robert Griffin III's locker at Redskins Park are six plastic action superhero figures, including The Hulk and Spider-Man.

Well, why not? Griffin is something of an action superhero himself after exactly one game in the NFL. What else would you call a rookie who went into the bleeding-ear Superdome and shocked the New Orleans Saints, 40-32, to become the first QB in NFL history to be named Player of the Week in his first game as a pro?

If he's not a superhero, then why are they selling Robert Griffin capes?

If he's not a superhero, how come everybody wants to be exactly like him? "Griffining" has now overtaken "Tebowing" as the meme of choice in the USA -- sitting on your butt and your two index fingers pointed to the sky, which Griffin did after he threw an 88-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon to stun the Saints.

"Who would've thought that getting knocked on your butt would start something like that?" Griffin said Wednesday.

If he's not a superhero then--

"Let's not get carried away here," Washington coach Mike Shanahan warned us all. "It's only one game."

No, let's do get carried away! A kid like this comes along every other pyramid.

He's bright, charming, humble, fast, likable and, like any good superhero, afraid of nothing. He threw a chop block on Saints safety Roman Harper on Sunday and then hopped up in Harper's face, ready to stand his ground, when Harper took offense.

He's younger than pants many of you are wearing -- the first QB born in the 1990s to start an NFL game -- and yet he leads the NFL in passing.

He was the second pick in the draft and yet Indianapolis fans are already wondering if the Colts made a mistake taking Stanford's Andrew Luck instead of him.

The kid should run for president when he's 35. You talk about the Hope and Change candidate. He's the one thing in D.C. both sides can agree on.

"We should challenge Congress to a football game," tweeted former D.C. mayor Marion Berry. "DC wins, we get statehood. First pick for DC: RG3."

Veterans love him. (His family is military.) Women love him. (He proposed to his girlfriend with a song he'd written.) Even guys he's just whipped love him. (Saints' QB Drew Brees hugged him after the game and said, "I'm proud of you.")

"All I hear is, 'Can you get me RG3's autograph?'" says starting Redskins fullback Darrel Young.

Well, can you?

"Of course! I got one myself. On his rookie card. That thing might end up being worth millions!"

Everybody wants to meet Capital Punish-man, the dreadlocked, right-handed Heisman Trophy winner who seems to have superpowers, like being able to heave the ball 40 yards in a perfect spiral, left-handed. "My dad taught me," Griffin admits.

Two-thirds of the free world showed up at Redskins Park on Wednesday for his once-a-week presser. The other third couldn't get in.

"He makes me feel like Halle Berry," says Redskins media relations director Tony Wyllie. "Because all day long I have to say 'no.'"

Griffin is that rarity in America today -- a young, handsome, freakishly talented millionaire you just can't find a reason to hate.

"Take this week," Shanahan says. "He was the first in Monday, working out and lifting. And he was the first one in Tuesday, working out and lifting. All camp he was the first one in and the last one out. ... I don't think I've ever had anybody quite like him. With this kid, we might be able to do some things that have never been done."

They already are.

When's the last time, for instance, you saw somebody run the shotgun wishbone? That's essentially what The Shanahans (Mike and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle) are throwing at the league with RG3. "I like to call it the East Coast Offense," Mike says.

In it, Griffin catches the snap and then has a Chinese menu of choices. He can hand off to a back. He can yank it out and then throw a screen pass to a wideout. He can turn the other way and hit the slant. Or he can decide to use his national-class hurdler speed and go leap some tall buildings.

"And he can throw a 40-yard sideline route like it's a 10-yard square-in," Shanahan says.

It drove the Saints mental.

"I'm really glad we don't have to prepare for him," says Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield. "I had my fill of him in camp."

They almost had to. If Shanahan hadn't traded three first-round picks to the St. Louis Rams to get him, they could be game-planning against Superkid, not celebrating him, as they go into their road game at St. Louis on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET.)

Griffin, meanwhile, carries on like it's all nothing, shuffling around with the Jackson Five on his headphones (he wears a glove on his left hand during games in honor of Michael), a smile on his face ("The best way to keep grounded is not to read anything anybody writes about you," he says) and a world drooling to reach him on his cell phone (it's red.)

"Some guy keeps sending me pictures of jewelry," Griffin said Wednesday. "I don't know how he got my number, but I guess he wants to show me his jewelry."

He's offering you free jewelry? I asked.

"No! If it were free, I'd have taken it!"

Fear not, Superkid. You might be getting fitted for free jewelry soon enough.

Rick Reilly | email

Columnist, ESPN.com