Last year, as Washington and New England prepared to engage in joint practices, quarterback Robert Griffin III expressed a strong interest in talking to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“If I get a chance to sit down and talk to him, I’d love to, just to pick his brain,” Griffin said at the time.
But Griffin learned that Brady has no interest in allowing his brain to be picked. Griffin tells Jeff Darlington of NFL Media that Brady declined.
“Not until my career is done, Rob,” Brady told Griffin. (Of course, there’s a chance Griffin’s will be done first.)
Griffin still learned plenty from watching Brady and the Patriots.
“What you do learn from watching [Brady] — and then watching the Patriots organization — you get a big-picture look at it,” Griffin told Darlington. “Man, honestly, they operate like a high school football team,” Griffin told Darlington. “You remember in high school, how the coach calls everybody up, everybody runs up, gets on a knee and looks at the coach like what he is saying is the most important thing in the world? That’s how the Patriots are.
“They’re attentive. They run on and off the field. They run after practice. They do what they have to do — and everyone understands, whether they like it or not, this is what it takes to win championships. And they won the championship.
“We can’t ignore that. We don’t need to mimic them or try to be like them. We need to create our own culture — but we can learn from some of those things.”
Yes, they can. But why didn’t they learn from those things last August? Even though the Patriots had yet to win the 2014 championship, they’d become one of the elite franchise in the NFL. Griffin surely didn’t want to pick Brady’s brain for the purposes of incorporating those changes in 2015; why didn’t Griffin and his teammates instantly implement the things they saw from the Patriots?
At a deeper level, Griffin’s comments could be viewed as (another) passive-aggressive dig at the coaching staff, since they’re the ones who need to create an environment in which players acts as if what the coach is saying “is the most important thing in the world.”
So Griffin was either subtly calling out his teammates or the coaching staff, or both. Either way, the effort to become like the Patriots probably includes adopting a media strategy that doesn’t entail the quarterback subtly criticizing the other players or the coaches.