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On the day the Pigskins were eliminated from the playoffs, Alex Ovechkin scored his 500th career goal, making him the fifth-fastest to that mark in NHL history. Then he scored his 501st. It was his second two-goal game of the weekend, contributing to a dominating 7–1 win for the Caps that kept them atop the NHL standings and continued their impressive season.
You couldn’t really be that unhappy about the Pigskins themselves—the playoff loss was ugly, sure, but it was a lot less ugly than the grim 4–12 and 3–13 finishes of recent years. And this is not claiming a “moral victory”—it is simply acknowledging that the team exceeded expectations throughout the season, and did so with very little public embarrassment or drama, in a way that they may even be able to build on moving forward.
For a sports town that inspires a lot of doom and gloom, there sure are a lot of exciting things happening. How about the 15–2 Terps?
So it was a little frustrating—and totally unsurprising—to see how much of the conversation on Monday revolved around Robert Griffin III. Every time I flipped on the radio, I was inundated by chatter about Griffin packing his locker, Griffin being done, Griffin leaving a note behind.
The Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog, as good an arbiter as any of what people are going to be chatting about, had two major Griffin farewell posts: One, from Scott Allen, includes Griffin’s departure from the stadium following the game, “RGIII’s likely FedEx Field farewell ends with lots of hugs.” The other, from O.G. Bogger Dan Steinberg, is more of a retrospective: “RGIII’s imminent exit is as unbelievable as his arrival.”
As of Tuesday morning, the FedEx Field farewell has 65-plus comments, and the Steinberg piece has more than 270. The Bog’s Ovechkin piece, written by Des Bieler and posted Sunday night, has 15 comments.
I don’t particularly want to dredge up the perpetual battle of “why don’t the Caps get more coverage,” because it seems like the answer is pretty obvious, if mercenary: The NFL gets the clicks, the eyeballs, the radio numbers, and whatever other kind of attention people have to offer. Those things are what let sports media folk keep sports-media-ing, and coverage will always skew accordingly. The decision to keep a focus on Griffin—at plenty of other outlets in addition to the Bog and sports radio—is motivated the same way. I understand all of that.
What I don’t understand is why people are still this interested in Griffin. Everyone largely agrees that Griffin was an amazing teammate this year, and that the way he achieved that was by being totally quiet and not a distraction at all. We have heard barely anything from him for 18 weeks, except in some very specific situations—and in each of those situations, just so he could give a harmless non-answer.
Prior to this extended period of silence, Griffin was alternately disappointing on the field and weirdly divisive off of it. The last time he seemed to be a unifier was also the last time he seemed truly transcendent on the field: It was in 2012, during his incandescent rookie campaign… and even that, in hindsight, seems pretty well peppered with the seeds of what would become future controversies.
This end wasn’t sudden. It’s definitely, inarguably been coming for nine weeks. It’s been all but inevitable for 17 weeks. And, if we’re being honest with each other, it’s been increasingly likely for a couple of years.
This isn’t waking up in the morning and finding out that David Bowie is dead. This is suddenly getting upset about Robin Williams all over again.
We knew Griffin was leaving. We know there will be a second act somewhere else. We can be all but certain that he will eventually break his silence, and explain his side of his bittersweet tenure in D.C. And that will definitely be worth discussing, and dissecting, and talking about.
But until that happens, I really wish we could all focus a little more on the things that have already been great in 2016, rather than continuing to dwell, just a little bit longer, on that doomed brush with greatness from 2012.
Follow Matt Terl on Twitter @Matt_Terl.
Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr / C.C.