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First Game Back Home In Texas Holds Emotional Pull For Robert Griffin III

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – Like many others around the country, watching football on Thanksgiving was part of a tradition for Robert Griffin III.

Griffin III

“I had some friends who were big, big Cowboys fans, so they would always want to get together and watch the games and things of that nature,” Griffin said Tuesday, referring to the Cowboys’ annual holiday home game. “For me, I was never a Cowboys fan. It was always good to watch football on Thanksgiving.”

That tradition will be a bit different this year. Griffin, now the Washington Redskins’ quarterback, will be playing in the very game he used to watch growing up in nearby Copperas Cove, Texas, as the Redskins face Dallas on Thanksgiving for the first time in 10 years.

His emotions toward the game are already mixed. For one, the quarterback is trying to treat it as just another game on the schedule, despite the fact that Washington will be playing two games in four days and only went through one true practice in preparing for the Cowboys.

But he also realizes the pull of familiarity, knowing several family members and friends will be watching not only at Cowboys Stadium, but across the country in his first truly nationally televised game.

Only 12 current Redskins players have had the distinction of having played in a Thanksgiving game, and many were looking forward to doing something they haven’t done since their high school days – if ever.

“It’s something that you watch growing up, and something that you envision doing when you’re in the backyard with your friends and you’re playing touch football,” said nose tackle Barry Cofield, who played in a Thanksgiving game while with the New York Giants in 2009. “You actually get to do it on the big stage, so it’s a great opportunity, and I hope that Redskins nation enjoys it.”

Mike Shanahan coached in three Thanksgiving games, beating Dallas in 2001 and 2005 and losing to Kansas City in 2006 when he was the head coach in Denver.

“Everybody looks forward to playing on national television, obviously on Thanksgiving,” Shanahan said. “You know everybody’s watching. Your peers are watching. You know, you want to perform as best you can and show everyone what your organization is about.”

Those who have watched Griffin over the past four years at Baylor, located roughly 100 miles south of Dallas in Waco, know what he can do. Griffin has been made aware all week that many of them are likely Cowboys fans.

“I mean, they’ve told me they’ll be cheering for me, but they still want their guys to win, so I guess I can accept that,” Griffin said. “But we’ve still got to go out and get a victory.”

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