Robert Griffin III is supposedly the savior of the Washington Redskins. The quarterback was a stellar rookie last season, drafted #2 overall out of Baylor. He proved to be a bit injury prone during his rookie campaign, however, eventually ending his season with an ACL tear in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
This is supposed to be a big comeback season. Unfortunately for Griffin, though he claims he’s healthy, the coaches won’t let him play. At least, not yet.
As these things always do, this drama has come spilling out into the media, with Griffin making oblique references to his “keeping his word” and his hope that the coaching staff “keeps theirs.”
Into this public fray has come Donovan McNabb, a recently retired star quarterback, who ended his career with these same Redskins, albeit before Griffin’s arrival. McNabb has publicly reached out to Griffin, offering him advice, support, and friendship. To date, Griffin has rebuffed McNabb completely.
In response, McNabb recently said, "Clearly the young generation, they think they have all the answers. [Griffin’s] going through a little turmoil right now, trying to make it out on the field, and it's unfortunate. But that's where we're at right now as far as these young quarterbacks who think they have all the answers. Until things start to fall apart and come down trembling on you, then you want some help. But it's a shame."
“Until things start to fall apart and come down trembling on you, then you want some help.”
Donovan McNabb has hit on something here, the one thing that will spur a human being to look for outside help: complete ruination. As my friend John Zahl has said, “God’s office is at the end of your rope.” Usually, that sentence is a word of comfort to suffering people: if you’re at the end of your rope, take heart. God is there. For those of us whose lives are not falling apart around us, though, it serves as a sobering word of reminder: until you’re at the end of your rope, you’re probably not looking for God’s office.
Our problem is a simple one: we’re addicted to self-sufficiency. It is our idol, the deity to which we sacrifice, and the organizing principle of our lives. Phrases like “self-made man” and “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” pepper our language, we reserve our highest praise for those who have accomplished great things “despite the odds” against them, and we turn help away so that, when the success does come, we don’t have to share it with anyone.
Can you imagine? What if Griffin met with McNabb, accepted his counsel, altered his public persona…and then had a great season? Wouldn’t McNabb become some sort of NFL guru, visited by struggling players in the same way that NBA big men consistently make pilgrimages to see Hakeem Olajuwon? Might not Griffin’s own talent become a lesser storyline than McNabb’s influence on him?
You can see why Griffin might reject the help. We all do the same thing, every day. If things are going well, we want the accolades. All of our rejecting is fine…“until things start to fall apart and come down trembling” on us. When that happens – when we acknowledge the stark reality of our situations – we can look for a savior, like the thief on the cross, and ask, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Our impulse is to try to do things on our own. It’s satisfying…potentially. Until we realize, though, that things are falling apart all around – and within – us, we’ll have real trouble hearing those most comforting of words: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”