“He’s six or seven years ahead of what I’ve seen from anyone in our locker room, in terms of his status in the locker room, his ability to control a football team, his leadership,” said Cooley. “If you forget for a second that he’s a rookie, it doesn’t mean anything to you. You’re like, ‘Yeah, this guy is awesome. He’s the leader.’ But then you step back and think he’s only 22. He’s been in the NFL for six months. I mean, it blows me away.”
It is an intangible skill — the ability to possess humility and self-confidence in equal proportions — one that has tripped up countless other would-be leaders in professional sports.
“He’s got an aura about him. He just exudes confidence,” Sundberg said. “Without even saying a word, we know he’s going to go get the job done. It spreads to all of us. It’s something that’s vastly different from a year ago. His attitude, his want-to, above all else is what’s leading us.”
Griffin came in with a plan, and at least to the extent that events have transpired, it has worked to perfection. The Redskins are a team molded in his image: prepared, confident and full of belief in their mission. By lining themselves up behind their 22-year-old leader, the Redskins have allowed Griffin to lead them, if not to the promised land, then right to the edge of it.