Donovan McNabb tried to reach out to Robert Griffin III last season. He never heard back, which a lot of six-time Pro Bowlers might take as being big-timed. Not McNabb.
“I don’t blame him,” he said. “Someone on his end was supposed to link us up, and it never happened. No big deal. But I would like to sit down with him. I’d actually like me and my dad to sit down with RG and his dad.”
McNabb, who played in five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl before his one forgettable year in Washington, is someone Griffin should hear from. It won’t be one of those I-told-you-so spiels about playing for the Shanahans. (“Come on. I’m beyond that. I even gave Mike credit for what he did last season,” he said.) Or a generation-gap rant from an envious former star. (“Everybody I played with wanted a commercial, too,” he said. “We all wanted to be Michael Jordan. I’m happy for that part of his career.”)
No. Just a simple “What the Young Fella Needs to Know” conversation from one of his biggest fans, a guy who is unafraid to tell Griffin what he needs to hear instead of what he wants to hear.
“It’s too much right now; it’s just too much,” McNabb said, speaking from his home in Arizona. “I get some of things he’s doing to draw attention to himself: the Adidas commercials, going out and enjoying the life of a young, famous NFL quarterback. I understand RG has a lot of stuff going on.
“But if you’re coming off ACL surgery, you don’t need to be having a press conference at OTAs. Every week? Really? It becomes a circus, a sideshow. It takes away from the focus of what those sessions are supposed to be about: the team.”
“One thing Andy Reid did is he never let the injured guys become the story if they were off to the side at practice,” McNabb added, referring to the former Eagles coach. “He thought it took away from the guys who were grinding and practicing every day.
“So when I look up on TV and see him up there talking all the time about how great he’s doing — or doing jumping jacks or someone else talking about his supernatural healing powers — I wonder to myself: Is this about selling tickets to the fans or what?
“I don’t blame him. They’re letting him do it. But at some point, it can be counterproductive. You can set yourself up for more criticism later.”
McNabb’s biggest fear for Griffin is fans and media will expect too much from him following major knee reconstruction.
“Especially if Robert doesn’t play at first or isn’t right for the first eight weeks and it takes a while for him to become the player he was,” he said. “So what if you start 2-6 or 3-5? Then everybody wonders what happened, starts thinking, ‘But wait, you told us he was great a few months ago. He told us he was great.’ ”
There are other dangers, too, McNabb said, when everyone hangs on an uber-popular athlete’s every word — or, for that matter, his parents’ every word.
When Robert Griffin II warned Shanahan, via The Post and WJLA (Channel 7), that his son needs to pass more — “he doesn’t have to be a runner as much as I saw last year. . . . I’m his dad — I want him throwing that football, a lot. A lot.” — McNabb wished he hadn’t.
“His dad should have never done a one-on-one interview like that,” he said. “You can’t say what he said because it almost undermines his son, who has to answer all the questions about it later. Now, we all know what he said was right. But that’s something you voice behind closed doors because otherwise it creates a wedge that didn’t have to be there. No team needs those kinds of things hovering over them.
“Like I said, I would really like for me and my dad to sit down with he and his dad just to tell them what we went through and talk about our experiences.”
McNabb said he likes Griffin talking about his development as a quarterback, what he wants to accomplish in the position, as opposed to last season when “there were times he sounded like a robot, programmed to be whoever they wanted him to be,” he said. “It’s important for him he lets people know what he thinks is best for him.”
He doesn’t even worry about the jet-setting star who attended big event after big event in the NFL offseason. The Vanity Fair/Bloomberg White House Correspondents’ after-party one weekend, the Kentucky Derby the next, serving as grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade this past weekend.
But McNabb is also concerned about Griffin’s handling of other situations — such as, yes, he and his fiance’s wedding registry at Bed, Bath &Beyond bought up by fans.