RG3 — and the glorification of the ‘know-it-all’ (in sports and politics)

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins is out with a tough column slamming Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. But it’s also an indictment on the coach and the culture — and I don’t just mean the culture at Redskins Park.

“A second-year quarterback with the owner on speed dial is calling all the shots for the Washington football club,” Jenkins laments, “and what they’ve got to show for it is a 2-5 mark, and a strong whiff of locker room discontent.”

This was written about a second-year quarterback — but couldn’t it just as easily have been written last month about…a freshman Senator? (And what did Republicans have to show for it? Not much. Just some “locker room discontent.”)

This, of course, is a larger societal trend. What is happening with Griffin is really a metaphor for our politics and culture. We don’t have elder statesmen as leaders any more. As Adam Carolla might say, we no longer have old guys in windbreakers and clipboards yelling at us to do laps. Nor do we have wise old men with white hair who rule from smoke-filled back rooms. Instead, we are taking our cues from callow youths who think they know it all.

It used to be that the new guy paid his dues. He earned your respect. And it sure as hell didn’t happen over night. But that was when the adults ran things. Now, whether you’re a head coach — or the Speaker of the House — you don’t dare stand up to the rock star. Even if he’s only been there for a cup of coffee.

This trend has finally made it to our most hierarchical institutions. No, I’m not talking about the most “exclusive club,” which is the U.S. Senate. Next to the Marines, football has to be the most macho, no B.S. milieu left in America. And even here — in this highly-patriarchal, chain-of-command-respecting environment — a young man named RG3 has essentially taken over the team from Mike Shanahan — a head coach with two Super Bowl rings (more than that if you count his days as an assistant)!

And nobody has the guts — or the gravitas — to tell him to sit down and shut up.

Sound familiar? It’s basically what’s happening in politics — and almost every other area of the world right now (go ask your interns — that is, if they don’t say, “Get off my back, old man!”)

“I’m just really focusing on being the playmaker that I know I can be and not letting anybody else tell me how to play this game,” Griffin said.

Huh? “A second-year guy doesn’t want anyone telling him how to play this game?,” Jenkins asks incredulously. “It’s the statement of someone who has perhaps not been as open to learning as he should have been.”

Jenkins then quotes Griffin bragging that he’s done a good job of managing people “my whole career,” to which she responds: “[Y]ou’re a sophomore in the NFL. What career? You haven’t had one yet. Come back and talk to us when you’ve played 50 games. Or even 25.”

I think I’ve found my curmudgeonly soul mate.

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