Robert Griffin III spent almost a full calendar year as a member of the Cleveland Browns, starting five games in a 1-15 season one year before they went 0-16.
But as Griffin and the Ravens prepare to clash with the Browns on Sunday, the quarterback has already compartmentalized his feelings for the franchise that gave him a second chance after he was released by the Washington Redskins following the 2015 season.
“They’re the enemy,” he said Wednesday. “For me, I’m a Baltimore Raven. I look forward to going out there, working hard and getting the victory. That’s my whole mindset.”
Asked if he will have any feelings of nostalgia about returning to FirstEnergy Stadium that he called home for one season, Griffin replied, “Not really. I appreciated my time when I was there, I appreciated the teammates that I had. I know they’ve got a lot of new players now, but those core guys that were there when I was there two years ago are still there, and we’re friends. But at the end of the day, when we step onto that field, they know we’re not friends for that 60 minutes of time or however long it takes to win the game.”
That doesn’t mean Griffin wishes any ill will upon the Browns. In fact, minutes after they defeated the New York Jets, 21-17 on Sept. 20 for their first win in 635 days, Griffin congratulated his former team via Twitter.
“To go 635 days without getting a win, without having that feeling in the building can be tough on anybody,” Griffin said. “I was there, and I know how hard those guys work. You never want to see that. … Everybody was a Browns fan in that game, just to see them win. No one wants to see a team go that long without getting a victory — even if they are your rivals. Now we’re back to rival status, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there and helping our team as much as I can.”
Griffin was intimately involved in the Cleveland offense as crafted by head coach Hue Jackson, but coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens coaches are not really tapping Griffin for inside information.
“I just don’t think you should make too much out of that,” Harbaugh said. “They’re really a different offense than they’ve ever been before. A lot of different influences with [rookie quarterback] Baker Mayfield, and obviously [first-year offensive coordinator] Todd Haley is a whole new flavor to the whole thing. So you just really go by what you see on tape, and you work off of that.”
Griffin has been inactive for all four games, backing up starter Joe Flacco and rookie Lamar Jackson. He would rather play, but also knows what is expected of him.
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“I’m never going to be OK with not dressing, and I’m never going to be satisfied with not playing,” he said. “But I think the team understands that, and I understand what my role is here right now, and whatever that role may be, I’ll always be ready to adjust.”