DeAngelo Hall Changes His Tune on Robert Griffin III

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DeAngelo Hall Changes His Tune on Robert Griffin III
DeAngelo Hall's interviews have caused shock and awe among beat reporters who cover the mercurial cornerback. Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Washington Redskins' cornerback DeAngelo Hall is a waffler. In the nation's capital, waffling is common, and is said to occur when a person changes his or her mind frequently on a topic. In Hall's case, the topic centers on Redskins' rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. 

In an April radio interview with CBS's 106.7 The Fan, Hall talked up Griffin like he was a DC icon. That title is already reserved for hockey's Alex Ovechkin, basketball's John Wall and baseball darlings Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. But there's room for another, according to Hall, who even placed Griffin in the stratospheric company of someone who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

He's the Prince of DC. Obama’s the King, [RGIII] is the prince, without a doubt.

Hall's statement appeared to be clear, but he may have to alter it if our current president is replaced this fall, or if Griffin fails to live up to his lofty expectations. Politics aside, let's delve into football and the indecisive mind of DeAngelo Hall.

Back on June 7, Hall piqued the interest of fans and the media once again when he claimed that RGIII (in his first training camp) is better than Michael Vick was at the same stage.

Vick (who now starts for Philadelphia) was a teammate of Hall's in college (at Virginia Tech) and as a rookie in Atlanta. Therefore, DeAngelo can tap into his memory banks to draw comparisons.

"I feel like he's light years ahead of Vick (as a rookie) because he understands mentally what it takes to be great," Hall said of RGIII in a radio interview with ESPN 980 (per NBC's ProFootballTalk). 

Robert Griffin III may be mature for his age, but he will learn some hard lessons in the NFC East. AP-Carolyn Kaster

Hall also claimed that the biggest difference between the two was their mental makeup.

Mike felt like he could go out athletically and be great. RGIII is like, 'I know athletically I'm pretty good, but I want to be mentally great.'

So how does Griffin compare to the current Michael Vick? Does he rate favorably with the other guys that act as field generals in the NFC East? You know, the Tony Romo's and Eli Manning's of the world?

Just 48 days after his interview with ESPN980, Hall waffled, in a conversation with the Washington Post (per CBSSports.com) .  

He’s probably right now, the worst quarterback in our division. He hasn’t taken a snap. He has that title until he takes a snap and goes out and proves he’s something.

So which one is it? Will Griffin be worse than the "other guys," or is he capable of playing up to par or better than them? 

We’ve finally got one that we feel can hold his own against some of these other guys, and you put that together with offensive line, receivers, defense, we have a chance to compete. But none of that means nothing unless you can go out and play.

Come again? Hall's last comment had hope, promise, uncertainty and doubt all wrapped up in the same sentence.

So why has Hall flip-flopped his opinion about RGIII? 

Perhaps Hall is stating the obvious. Perhaps he fears that RGIII will get "too big for his britches." Maybe Hall is just trying to ease expectations a bit, to take the pressure off of the team's savior.

Hall has not been shy when asked to respond to questions about RGIII. AP

Let's face it. At 22, Griffin is still "wet behind the ears," but what's the benefit of reminding him of it?

Hall presumably asked himself that question and flip-flopped again.

On July 30, NFL Network's Scott Hansen asked Hall about the potential of RGIII. DeAngelo, in turn, sang the praises of Griffin, like he was a gift from God.

He's the real deal. He can make every throw out there and he extends the play with his feet. You know, hype aside, I don't think I would have been the same way, if I had came in as such a high draft pick and all the hoopla and the keys pretty much handed to me.  I don't know if my work ethic would have been as strong as his has been so far.

RGIII is not the first teammate to earn compliments from Hall. Redskins left tackle Trent Williams received heaps of praise just one week ago, when DeAngelo told ABC-7's Britt McHenry that Trent can be "the best tackle in the game" if he wants to be. "I'll stand on the table for him and shout it to the world," said the three-time Pro Bowler. 

Hall's camp comments about RGIII also came after Griffin ran for two scores and tossed one against a Redskins secondary that is under scrutiny this summer. But, one has to wonder if a higher power had something to do with the way Hall responded.

Just five days earlier, Washington's media staff caused a ruckus when it threatened to revoke the credentials of 106.7 The Fan (WJFK) if the station proceeded to cover RGIII's latest press conference. The Redskins claimed it was a "rights issue," but many in the broadcast community felt it was another crude way of shaping the team's message in a dictatorial way.

DeAngelo Hall is an expensive piece of an elaborate puzzle in Washington. AP

WJFK competes with ESPN980, which is owned by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. So, it's worth noting that Dan has some control over who says what about his organization.

So, did Hall get called into the principal's office after he unfavorably compared Griffin to his contemporaries? That is pure speculation, but Hall's words Monday were in contrast to the ones that flew out of his mouth a week ago.

When the NFL Network asked Hall if Griffin looked like a deer in the headlights, he was quick to respond in the negative.

Not at all. Surprisingly, no matter what we throw at him, he's always able to somehow figure it out and make some kind of adjustments. Mike and Kyle [Shanahan] have done a great job just being beside him and kind of helping him through the little nuances of the game so far. So we can't wait to see him just get released out there come the preseason and regular season.

Suddenly, Hall appears to be towing the company line, like a good soldier should. He may have been right to admit that RGIII has a ways to go, before being mentioned in the same breath as Vick, Romo and a two-time Super Bowl MVP (Eli Manning). But those opinions have no business being expressed when the message should remain positive.

The question that now needs to be answered is how will all of this affect the still-maturing mind of the Redskins new field general?

Many in the media believe that RGIII will rise above all of the fluff, circumstance and conflict. But some personalities believe the Redskins will take a conservative approach with Griffin because of the unique circumstances he is under in his first season.

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
RGIII can be great, but his atmospheric image may undermine his ability to stay humble.

"[Indianapolis rookie] Andrew Luck has minimal expectations," said former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick in an appearance on the NFL Network. "They're just gonna let Luck throw as many passes as he has to. It's all going to be about growth and getting ready for 2013. But for RGIII, you're talking about a head coach in Mike Shanahan, who's under some pressure. He's in his third year. They think they're pretty good defensively. We saw it with Joe Flacco in Baltimore & Mark Sanchez in New York. It was kind of like, look, just don't mess it up here. That's not as good a learning curve as what Luck is going to be allowed or like a Cam Newton had in Carolina."

Billick has been around the block a time or two as an offensive coordinator and a Super Bowl winning head coach. But he went on to contradict himself, much like Hall has in recent weeks.

In college, the thing you kept hearing about him was he was just a winner. You heard about his intellect and his ability to process the game. The physical skills you could see, but all you heard about was his ability to process an offense, his intellect and his ability to handle pressure. They made him their guy from 'jump street' because of the confidence they had in that mental makeup [and his ability] to step into the fray.

Don't be fooled by the above quote. Billick was describing Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton who led his team to the playoffs as a rookie despite a 2-4 finish in the AFC North. But when you re-read Billick's comment, it sounds eerily similar to RGIII.

So if Dalton can do it, why can't Griffin?

DeAngelo Hall can answer that, but for his sake we'll let him close on a high note (per NFL Network).

I think everybody knows that RGIII is a special kind of guy. He's not the kind of guy that comes around often. So, for us to have the chance to get him and put him in this offense with this defense and this scheme, we just feel really good about our chances in our division and hopefully in the playoffs.

Well said, DeAngelo. Well said. 

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