The NFL preseason is in full swing, and several storylines have caught my attention. We’ve had arrests, more arrests, surprising performances, and training camp fights. We aren’t quite to the NFL season preview, but another development could be one to watch for seasons to come.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be linked for the rest of their careers. In college, they finished first and second in Heisman voting. In this year’s draft, the Washington Redskins traded up to take RGIII second overall; right after Luck. They are like siblings: successful in their own right, but forever compared by circumstance. What’s been most interesting is how each player’s media persona has evolved so far in their young careers.
By media persona, I mean how each player presents himself in the media and how media members talk about them individually. This has evolved into an interesting dichotomy between the high profile players.
Andrew Luck – Dictionary Definition of a Quarterback
For his whole life, Andrew Luck prepared to be an NFL quarterback. His father, Oliver Luck, played QB at West Virginia University (where he is currently the school’s Athletic Director), before playing a few seasons with the Houston Oilers. Luck’s family eventually settled in Texas where high school football is king, and Luck was considered one of the best high school prospects in the country. He eventually chose Stanford University and continued to improve. Luck would have been the number one pick in the NFL draft last year if he had decided to leave early. Rob Rang of CBS Sports even called Luck the best college prospect he had ever scouted. You couldn’t script a more ideal rise to prominence as a young quarterback.
Since joining the Indianapolis Colts, Luck has wowed media personalities with his poise and command of the offense. Rival coaches have said he plays like a veteran, and the Twitter almost melted down when his first ever pass resulted in a touchdown (not that impressive, right?). After just two preseason games, many bloggers, writers, and studio hosts have penciled Luck in for several Super Bowls and a Hall of Fame induction. For all this attention, Luck has managed to almost completely avoid the limelight. He signed his contract quickly, reported to camp on time, and gives some of the most boring interviews of all time. The one commercial Luck has starred in (filmed before the draft) is just him working out with a voiceover. When asked about marketing himself, Luck said “I want to earn it on the field before reaping all the benefits…”
Everything about Luck is “by the book.” Allowing the media to create his persona has worked out well for him. He has been ascribed intangible traits like “poise,” “presence,” and “moxie.” These words really mean nothing,so how do you measure them? They do allow Luck the time to make mistakes, improve gradually, and realize his potential without harsh expectations creating pressure along the way. Luck is a number one pick, so he will have to be good, but he has managed to buy himself time before the weight of expectation crashes down on him.
Robert Griffin III – Willie Beamon part 2?
Robert Griffin III was born an army brat in Japan before his family also settled down in Texas. He starred as a quarterback in high school as well and, while not ranked as highly as Luck, had several scholarship offers to choose from. Griffin was also a three-sport star and a world-class sprinter on the junior level. He eventually chose to attend Baylor University in part because of the excellent track program at the school. Anyone who follows college football knows that Baylor has been a football doormat, and not the place where star quarterbacks end up. Despite that, Griffin’s play brought Baylor into the national spotlight and earned him a Heisman trophy in the process.
Even before being drafted, Griffin had endorsement deals with Subway, adidas, Castrol, EvoShield, Gatorade, Sprint, and the cover of EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2013. His Superman socks drew attention to him at the Heisman ceremony and you wonder how long before Joseph A. Banks makes him an endorsement pitch. Griffin is very personable in the media and shows the confidence that many expect from a highly drafted quarterback.
Griffin’s willingness to serve as a pitchman for several companies and embracing of RG3, his catchy nickname, present a double edged sword. If Griffin plays great, his media presence will work for him and bring him even more attention off the field. If Griffin struggles with the Redskins, he will be seen as a “me first” NFL player putting his individual aspirations ahead of the team’s. This is one of the worst sins in sports media, and I can already hear Skip Bayless calling him a flash in the pan.
Griffin has made a bet on his ability. The drawback is that he’s shortened the time many will take to evaluate him before judging his career a success or failure. We’ll get to see Luck and Griffin face off this Saturday. I will root for a good game by both, hoping that the media focus remains on the field while each comes into his own as a player.
Where do you stand, SBM Sports fans? Wins matter most in the end, but how much of a player’s management of his media persona affect your opinion of him on the field? What if your team’s leader spent time “building his brand” before and during the season?
Good and bad, major sports media (led by ESPN) uses quite a bit of familiarity to qualify and quantify the attributes of athletes. "Who does (enter athlete's name) remind you of?" is a regular question on shows and specials, sometimes as superficial as two athletes having the same height, build, and shade of skin. Beyond that it's a shame that so many of our athletes have gotten a bad rap because of something their predecessors did or didn't achieve. That said, it won't be long before RG3 will be called the right-handed MV7 (Michael Vick), just because he trademarked his initials and jersey number. It's rare air, and the friends of our top athletes must remind them of the crowns they wear.
I'm still trying to figure out how RG3 even got endorsements with those braids! -_- in Twenty Twelve!!!
Same way Gabby Douglas got endorsements…..too soon? lmao (I kid, I kid).
I ain't mad at the brotha, though. Get it how you live it while you can, lol.
Larry, you know you're gonna end up quoted in some major publication for that comment right? lol
Lol! Larry you are a fool! 🙂
The difference here is Gabbys endorsers will probably give her a "look" or mini make over. (I btw, understand her struggle as a former athlete myself, but didn't understand all the fuss. She probably was just due for a touch up WHILE training for the Olympics. I myself have and witnessed my current players looking A ROYAL MESS during playoffs. A game one day you win, practice the next, a game the next and so on an so forth.
RG3 on the other hand, is willingly walking around with an antiquated hairstyle. -_-
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All I can say is HTTR!!!!!! RG3 is and will be the truth! Redskins all day! I have no problem with RG3 building his brand because he has the personality that is very marketable compared to Luck in my opinion.
I take issue with your assertion that Andrew Luck is boring. Did you see the beard he had at Stanford??!! Straight out of The Hangover. But you are right about his inevitable Hall of Fame induction…hopefully he cracks the beard back out for that. Oh, and 2 years, it'll be like "Peyton Who"?
LIke you said, Luck has pretty much been groomed for this so in that aspect his is boring. He is fundamentally what you want in a textbook QB.
The only thing that I think can hurt RGIII is his play level. If he has a Cam Newton-esque first year he will be fine. The best thing he has going for himself outside of his ability is his personality. Dude is too humble to have that be a negative for him.
My recent post Murci, Murci Me
Him having the greatest rookie year of all time is a little too high of a bar to set. Redskins fans think they're going 16-0 when they start off the season with a win though…
Yeah and as a fellow Redskins fan myself, the fans you are referring to make me sick. While I do think we will have a productive year, keeping things in perspective is a must. A10 record would be good for me.The key for us is that we finally have a decent QB, but we are still lacking on the O-Line which we must address in the next few drafts.
I meant a 6-10 record
"…how much of a player’s management of his media persona affect your opinion of him on the field? What if your team’s leader spent time “building his brand” before and during the season?"
Doesn't affect me in the least. I can usually compartmentalize off the field actions and on the field success/failures. I'll always give credit where it is due on the field/court….doesn't mean I have to like the person (see: Jordan, Michael). Those who read my comments know I'm a huge Laker fan. Jerry Buss brought "Showtime" and the Laker girls to L.A. back in the early 80's. He also brought 5 championships that decade. Bottomline is that winning solves everything.
I agree overall. I think players owe it to themselves to make what they can while they can. Most of the time that doesn't affect play, so I'm good with it.
The Showtime Lakers is a example of when it has worked, but how about the alternative. For example, Jeremey Lin said he was stretched too thin at times during Linsanity, and it went to his head a little bit. Would that make a difference if he was on the Lakers and it cost them some W's?
As a jaded Redskins fan, I'm holding off on excitement. The preseason is just foreshadowing. Both are franchise players, but too much can change in a split second to write the hall of fame narrative for either one quite yet….
Since it’s preseason and I’m a Cowboys fan and therefore must hate the Redskins (and the Giants and Eagles) for existing, I only have one question:
RGIII and Lolo Jones, same person?
Luck is white and from an upper middle class family he can afford to wait for all the big endorsements, RG3 and many other black stand outs usually don’t come from money and can’t afford to wait like that. The end