It's not often a player in the National Football League hosts a wine tasting. It’s also quite rare that the Washington Redskins land a franchise quarterback with the second overall pick. But both happened on the same night.
Green Bay Packers DB Charles Woodson recently visited the Assaggi Restaurant Mozzarella Bar in Bethesda to promote his wine, 24. With ABC7’s Tim Brant away in New York covering the NFL Draft, I stopped by the bar to catch up with the Super Bowl winning veteran.
After all, a Super Bowl is what this town has dreamed of since the Redskins last tasted glory in 1991. If anyone could give insight into the challenges that an up-and-coming team and it's new heralded savior face, it's a Packer.
"He's just got to stay true to himself," Woodson said. "He can't pay attention to the media, he has to trust his talent."
Of course, that's much easier said than done.
Everywhere Griffin goes, there's a camera. Every step he takes on the football field, there's the added weight of a city's hopes and dreams, and with each throw, there will undoubtedly be critics watching, wondering if the rookie was worth so many high picks.
But Woodson can back up his words. He, like Griffin, was a Heisman Trophy winner (the only primary defensive player to win the college accolade). Like Griffin, Woodson was an exceptionally high draft pick. He may not have been the face of the franchise, but he's very much the face of success, with a Super Bowl ring and a successful (and delicious) wine to show for it.
Woodson did admit to feeling the pressure once in his career: the near perfect season. This past year, the Packers’ unblemished record was tainted by the least likeliest of opponents in the regular season: Kansas City. Woodson said, though, it was actually a relief to show a chink in the armor. The expectations, and all the hype with it, died down.
"(Griffin) will make mistakes," Woodson said. "He's young. Once he does, and finds his own rhythm as Washington's quarterback, that's when he'll hit his stride."
More than a decade his senior, Woodson has the same calm demeanor as Griffin. But, he did crack a sly smile when the restaurant crowd started cheering over RG3. "I can see why fans are excited about him," he said.