It was quite the story last week, especially for those who enjoy outrage over the money made by professional athletes and the sense of entitlement they all supposedly have: Washington Redskins fans went to the Bed, Bath & Beyond website and bought gifts for quarterback Robert Griffin III and his fiancée, Rebecca Liddicoat from the couple's wedding registry. Those gifts included several pricey items (in the $200-499 range), which set quite a few people out of joint. After all, those people said, where does a guy who signed a four-year, $21,119,098, fully guaranteed contract in July of 2012 get off accepting gifts from fans?
Dan Steinberg, the Big Kahuna over at the Washington Post's indispensable D.C. Sports Bog, got all investigative instead, and actually reached out to the fans who bought those gifts to see why they did it. As you'd expect, Steinberg got some interesting responses.
Patrick Dibert, a 24-year old Redskins fan who works in the non-profit sector for a Virginia group that fights hunger ... bought Griffin and his fiancée, Rebecca Liddicoat, a set of Brita water filters for $30 (including shipping), and he isn’t about to apologize.
“It’s not like that was money I’m not going to donate to charity; I’m just not going to go out to happy hour one time during the week,” Dibert told me on Monday. “I mean, it’s just kind of funny to say I bought RGIII a present.”
Wes Taylor bought RG3 and Ms. Liddicoat a pair of spoon holders for $8, and seemed surprised anyone was taking this so seriously.
"It was kind of a goof," Taylor told Steinberg. “I just saw something on there that wasn’t that expensive and was like ‘You know what, I might as well send that.’ It was off the wall, it was goofy and no one else had bought it.’”
And for John Short, buying a simple wedding gift was more about the goofiness inherent to the hardcore Redskins fan than any sort of "give to the rich" mistake.
“Everybody knows Redskins fans are crazy optimists who love RGIII,” he said, explaining why he and his wife spent $35 on a chip-and-dip set for a quarterback. “I think it’s just an indication of the way Redskins fans feel about the team. Yes, it’s crazy and illogical, but it was kind of a no-brainer once we thought about it. We love this team, and this is a unique way to support them; why wouldn’t we do it? You don’t see Jaguars fans buying their draft picks anything; that’s something that makes Redskins fans unique. It IS weird, but it’s something uniquely Redskins."
Some have criticized Griffin for not giving the gifted items to charity instead of keeping them, and in the long view, that's legitimate. However, 24-year-old Danny Kolta pointed out to Steinberg that while he spent seven bucks on a dish towel for the happy couple, he's also put down over $500 for an RG3 jersey at a silent auction for charity.
Kolta explained his thought process thusly:
“I’m only 24 years old, but he just gave me the most exciting Redskins season I’ve ever seen. He’s a normal person. Just because he’s rich he shouldn’t be able to receive gifts? That’s kind of stupid….With all the bad quarterbacks we’ve had, now we actually have something to be excited about. I just wanted to thank him. That’s the least I could do.”
And that's what this seems to be about -- a simple series of appreciative gestures for a player who has given Redskins fans hope they haven't had in a good, long while. it's also a way for the fans to feel involved, it seems. Dibert joked that the water filter he bought will help keep Griffin hydrated, and John Short advised Griffin and Liddicoat to use their new chip-and-dip set while watching the Dallas Cowboys lose during the Redskins' 2013 bye week.
“Congratulations, hope you have many happy years together, Hail to the Redskins,” Dibert wrote in the card that was sent with his gift.
What's so economically evil about that?