Sports stars rarely wade into divisive issues, and so it’s no surprise that Robert Griffin III wants to steer clear of the controversy surrounding his team’s name.
Griffin said on 106.7 The Fan that he’d rather not talk about his own feelings about the Redskins name controversy.
“When it comes to those conversations, it’s just not the time,” Griffin said. “And I understand, trust me, I’m African American, I’ve grown up being African American my entire life and I understand oppression and all the things that come with it. But for us, like I said, as players, we have to focus on what we can control right now, and right now that’s the football season.”
That’s not a surprising answer. Athletes usually calculate that if they speak out, they’re more likely to lose fans, lose endorsements and distract from their primary jobs than to effect social change.
When asked whether he would want to be the Muhammad Ali of his generation, a sports star who speaks his mind despite the consequences, Griffin said that’s not how he sees his role.
“If anything to that extent came up as a player, and you had an opportunity to be the Muhammad Ali of your generation, when it comes to oppression and just things being wrong — my parents grew up in that time, I’ve heard stories about it, I’ve watched movies about it, I understand that — and if it comes to that, then you make a decision at that time, but at this time particularly, we have to focus on what we can control,” Griffin said.
When the Redskins launched a Twitter campaign in defense of their name, some players joined in. Griffin did not, and he said the team didn’t ask him to.
“The team does those things and I don’t have any statement on what they do, and those situations, but they didn’t ask me to do that,” Griffin said.
Anyone asking Griffin to weigh in on the Redskins name is likely to come away unsatisfied: On that subject, Griffin is keeping his opinions to himself.