I'll be the first to admit that, as a guy from a family that bleeds green and gold, I am slightly freaked out that Baylor University's Robert Griffin III (that Heisman Trophy guy) will soon be the quarterback for the Washington Redskins. I mean, I dislike the owner of the Redskins almost as much as I dislike the owner of the Dallas Cowboys (as a Tom Landry fan, I still have anger issues). Nevertheless, it's clear that RG3 is about to become a very, very important athlete and civic leader here in Beltway land. I imagine the press is going to dig quite deeply into the psyche and soul of this rather remarkable young man. When I say "remarkable," I am referring just as much to the head on his shoulders as his strong right arm and Olympic-quality feet.
If you have been reading the coverage (here's some ESPN stuff to surf), you know that both his mom and dad were U.S. Army sergeants. You know that he graduated from high school early, with honors, and from college early, with honors, and he's finishing a master's degree in Communications -- with law school as his ultimate goal. At Baylor he was the point man for untold hours of service learning work with the poor in Central Texas.
However, I wouldn't be writing about him here if there wasn't a strong religious element in this story.
Turns out, there is one. The question is when it will show up in the mainstream press.
Griffin, you see, is not shy when it comes to talking about his faith. At the same time, there has been an element of mystery to it. For example, when and why did the quarterback at the world's largest Baptist institution of higher learning celebrate touchdowns by making the sign of the cross?
Inquiring minds would like to know.
Thus, I found it interesting that the team at the The Washington Post elected to open one of its first Griffin features (you know that oceans of DC ink will be spilled on this guy between now and week one of the NFL season) with -- you got it -- a hint of Godtalk.
COPPERAS COVE, Tex. -- Robert Griffin III’s car turned off one dirt road and onto another. He was riding shotgun and his fiancee was driving. The blue Chrysler Pacifica has just one embellishment: a bumper sticker for his church.
The car slowly passed a home that features a Washington Redskins flag high atop a flagpole in the front yard -- sacrilege here in the middle of Dallas Cowboys country -- before pulling into a driveway. “Welcome to the Griffin Estate,” reads the wooden sign on the front door.
In the middle of a grassy, nondescript three-acre lot, the Griffin home is a modest one. Most of the neighbors have no idea, in fact, who was raised here. The only real clues inside are the plaques that hang in the entryway and the Heisman trophy in the curio cabinet behind the couch.
Robert Griffin III’s life will change this week.
Now, you know that your GetReligionistas really think that it's important, when journalists play the God card at the top of a story, for there to be some kind of factual, relevant faith-driven follow-up later on in the text. If religion makes it into the lede, then journalists need to keep asking questions and give readers some solid facts that link faith into the substance of the story.
In this case, the Post team has broken some new ground, because this report does feature a quotation from the Griffin family's pastor. Thus, we read:
So no one is surprised Griffin is suddenly on the NFL’s front doorstep, a unique talent who’s about to take the step for which he and his family have invested years of sweat and preparation.
“I could recall prophesying over him,” said Bishop Nathaniel Holcomb, pastor of the Christian House of Prayer Ministries, Griffin’s 5,000-member church. “I felt the Lord said that he would be a rising star. ... There was just something unique about him.”
And that, gentle readers, is that.
A visit to the website of The Cathedral of Central Texas -- from all appearances a Pentecostal megachurch -- offers all kinds of information about its specialized ministries. Glancing at several of them could, I imagine, turn some of the key Post editors into pillars of salt.
But those complications will probably come later. Right now, God is in the lede and the preacher gets to voice a prophesy that the Redskins do, indeed, have a new star and, it appears, this star will guide them.
That's all the faith information we're going to get right now. Stay tuned.