In the beginning, depending on whom you ask, there was nothing in the universe but an unfathomable swirling void, and the potential for a firmer kind of squishiness.
Then again, depending on where you get your info, either a being of infinitely concentrated benevolence forged the world from a potent cocktail of will and wrath, or a bunch of stuff fell into place rather nicely. Skip ahead a few billion years, adjust for inflation (economic and cosmic), and the sum total of the entire cumulative progress of the universe can be represented by the image below:
As you well know, that’s Robert Griffin III, one-time starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins, standing on the sidelines during his team’s current run to the NFL playoffs. Robert Griffin III is many things: a paradigm-discombobulating college football talent, a cryptic social media soothsayer, and a man with the luck of a wedding cake in a car crash. What he is not, however, is one of the 46 eligible football players for the Washington Redskins.
Why, then, during a Washington Redskins football broadcast (perhaps the most Washington Redskins-heavy event on television) did cameras constantly cut to Griffin on the sideline, dressed in a t-shirt, holding a clipboard, generally looking like a teacher’s aide?
The answer is obvious: reaction shots, the life-sustaining nectar of the oily cameraman. I get it: people like a good eye-roll. They relish a good sneer. “If It’s Peeved, It Leads,” my now-imprisoned journalism professor used to say. We like to see famous people behaving badly, so we can choke down another pork rind with the sanctimonious tut-tutting we feel we’re entitled to.
But that’s what makes the shots of Griffin so vexing: he isn’t doing, well, shit. He’s just standing there, or often, sitting. He’s staring straight ahead. He’s blinking, maybe. Every now and then he chews a little gum, and millions of viewers are plunged into existential crises: Is it spearmint? I don’t know if Griffin is deliberately blanking his face, going the nuclear Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind route and escaping to somewhere nicer and gentler. I don’t know if he feels that keeping quiet and privately working hard is his best chance to get another shot somewhere else in the league. I don’t know if he just hates television producers and likes to imagine the shitstorm going on in the van as ten seconds of blank-faced RG3 is broadcast to millions of households. If there’s any justice in the world, I hope to God it’s the latter.
This doesn’t happen at other events. They don’t cut away from NASCAR races to show Earl from Spartanburg, SC, who made the brake pads. Bobsledding doesn’t show a picture-in-picture of the water freezing. Porn flicks don’t cut to shots of the actors’ exes and fathers looking wistful and disappointed.
If Griffin remains a plot point, then sure, show him as we show footage of the Hindenburg or the Titanic: mangled, macabre monuments to the hubris of man. Show him as we show pre-Columbian art in museums: to the disbelief of our children that money-grubbing old white folks could have wrecked something so dazzling. Show him as we show up for Thanksgiving with the family: more out of habit than anything.
I hope Robert Griffin III sits on the bench all the way to a Super Bowl ring. I hope he wears that same laundry-day shirt to meet the president at the White House. I want a new Wheaties box, but with dynamic, exciting RG3 replaced with comatose, inert RG3. I want Griffin to leave Washington with precisely as many championships as the entire city has had over the last 20 years.
Then, he can go to Dallas and get really messed up.
Jason Rogers has written for The Classical and Yahoo Sports. You should follow him on Twitter.