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Robert Griffin III and Tom Brady: Two Quarterbacks, Only One Controversy

Both Quarterbacks Push to Play, yet Only Griffin's Comments Draw Scrutiny

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COMMENTARY | You all know the story. The franchise quarterback of one of the most profitable teams in the NFL suffered a lower-body injury, told reporters he was fine, and pushed to play in the preseason.

Of course, I'm talking about Tom Brady.

Thought I was talking about Robert Griffin III? It does seem very similar. The major difference, however, is that Brady's comments have not been subject to the same scrutiny or caused the same sort of media backlash. Every one accepts that he is just a competitor that wants to get back on the field.

So is Griffin.

For months now, people have been pouring over every syllable Griffin has said, trying to glean some sort of insight into the type of person Griffin is or the relationship he has with head coach Mike Shanahan. Griffin's recent comments regarding Shanahan's plan to sit him in the preseason started a whole new uproar.

"I don't like it," Griffin told reporters. "There's some part of it that I do understand. I don't understand all of it. At the end of the day [Shanahan] gave me his word. We talked privately. I know the whole plan. I'm not telling the whole plan. I don't understand the whole plan at all and I can't lie about that."

Conspiracy theorists, rejoice! Here is your fodder for the week.

People have taken these comments and run with them, taking them as some sort of reflection of Griffin's immaturity or of clear evidence of the tension between quarterback and coach -- tension some feel was created when Griffin was injured last January.

The reality, however, is that these comments mean absolutely nothing. The player wants to play and the coach wants to protect him. That's it. It does not prove any sort of deep-seeded resentment between the two, and it is certainly not tension spilling over during a press conference.

How do I know? Because after Brady's injury scare in New England this week, he told the media the very next day he intended to play.

Brady went down in practice on Wednesday after lineman Nate Solder was pushed into his leg. You could certainly forgive head coach Bill Belichick if he wanted to sit him for the remainder of the preseason. Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of all time, and I think it is safe to assume he can be successful even without a full preseason. Yet Brady played in the team's preseason game Friday night.

Clearly, this shows how much distrust there is between Brady and Belichick, right? Isn't Brady telling the media he wants to play in order to pressure his coach? Of course not.

Obviously, Brady's injury and Griffin's are not comparable; Brady practiced a day after the injury scare, and Griffin suffered a complete ligament tear. The point, however, is not to compare the injuries or how either coach is approaching the situation, but to show that Brady did the exact same thing Griffin did. It is not about maturity or the relationship between coach and quarterback; it is about wanting to play.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston talked about Brady's mentality Thursday on the "Mike and Mike" show:

"I think Tom Brady has sort of had this mindset … that he never wants to open the door for someone to take his job, similar to the way he sort of took Drew Bledsoe's job back in 2001."

What if Brady was in Griffin's position. How do you think Brady would have responded? Do you think he would have accepted Shanahan's plan with a smile on his face? No, he would have told reporters he was not happy, just like Griffin.

Every NFL player, regardless of who he is or what he has done, is one play away from losing his job. Even Griffin. Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins has looked very good behind Griffin, but it ultimately does not matter who is behind you on the depth chart. Who would have thought Donovan McNabb would one day be benched in favor of Rex Grossman? Yet, it happened.

If you want to say there is an issue between Griffin and Shanahan, you can make that argument. Griffin's comments show that he is a competitor, nothing more.

JJ Regan is a current freelancer for Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and is working towards a Master's degree in journalism at American University.

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