Robert 'RG3' Griffin III on Playing Football in a Political Town, Dream Pickup Game With Obama

PHOTO: Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III leaves the field, Sept. 23, 2012 at FedE Field in Landover, MD.Jonathan Newton/Getty Images
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III leaves the field, Sept. 23, 2012, at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

The Berlin Wall had already fallen by the time Robert Griffin III was born.

Today, the son of two Army sergeants has grown into one of the most-hyped young football stars on the national scene. He roared through Baylor University in Texas with a political science degree in less than four years, winning the 2011 Heisman Trophy along the way.

Griffin then moved to Washington, but not for the same reasons as other poli-sci grads who flock to the shores of the Potomac. Chosen by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, the 22-year-old star quarterback is the new great hope of the D.C. sports world.

Despite living in the nation's political capital, Griffin -- commonly referred to by the nickname "RG3" -- knows better than to talk much about his own political views. But he has a passion for encouraging young people to vote.

Griffin joined the nonprofit group Rock the Vote in October to encourage young people to cast a ballot. Griffin sent his own ballot to Texas by mail, but won't say whether he chose Mitt Romney or President Obama.

He also teamed up with the makers of the new video game "Assassins Creed III."

Griffin got an early taste for Washington last year when he met Obama and challenged him to a pick-up basketball game. "He said he wouldn't play me but I could play on his team," Griffin told Yahoo News.

Griffin has ambitions to go to law school, and he's leaving open the possibility of one day being bitten by the politics bug. "Who knows what the future will hold," he said when asked whether he could see himself in elected office. "But, right now, I have no plans for running for office."

For now, in a city polarized and clouded by partisan bickering, Griffin is one of the few figures who have shown promise of uniting the place. In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News, Griffin talked about the importance of voting rights, what it's like playing for the football team in the nation's political capital, his dream basketball pick-up game with Obama and his love of video games.

Yahoo News: When you cast your ballot for president, what were some of the most pressing issues that were on your mind?

RG3: For me, I always told my fiancée and my family that money would never change the way I viewed politics. For me, it wasn't a money issue. It was about overall what each candidate presented, but I can't disclose who I voted for.

YN: Why don't you like to talk about who you voted for?

RG3: There's a couple things you don't talk about in life, and that's race, religion and politics. I try to make sure I don't talk about politics at all.

YN: You now live near Washington, D.C., the country's political city. Are you able to find time to follow politics much now that you're playing for the D.C. town?

RG3: I get my share here and there via the news on TV and sometimes I'll stop in on the stations and listen for a second. But for the most part, I try to stay out of it and make sure I stay focused on football.

YN: You were a political science major at Baylor. Is the political process different from how you imagined it now that you live in the politics capitol?

RG3: No, politics is not what people think it is. I know that from being a political science major. You really can't get too much of a feel for it by being this close to the capital unless you go out to rallies and you're an inside source. And by no means am I an inside source.

YN: Any politicians in D.C. you would like to meet?

RG3: I've met the [D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray] and I've met President Obama. Other than that, it's good for now. We'll see what politicians I can meet in the off season.

YN: What did you and President Obama talk about when you met him?

RG3: I met him at the National Prayer Breakfast after I won the Heisman. He just talked about how good of a player I was and I challenged him to game of basketball. He said he wouldn't play me but I could play on his team.

YN: Do you think Obama will ever change his mind and play against you?

RG3: I don't think he'll ever play against me. We'll have it me and him versus [All-American Baylor senior] Brittney Griner and Mrs. Obama.

YN: When you were younger, you had an interest in pursuing a law degree. Do you have any interest in running for office yourself someday?

RG3: I do want to go to law school, but right now, the 22-year-old me has no interest in politics. Who knows what the future will hold but right now I have no plans for running for office.

YN: Tell me about your efforts getting people out to vote. Why is it so important to you that people vote?

RG3: To me, it's not necessarily about whom you vote for, it's more about the fact that you go out and exercise that right. There's a lot of people who fight for our right to vote and people in other countries fighting for other peoples' right to vote and I think everyone should exercise that vote. Everyone says, "My vote doesn't count" but if everybody has that attitude then nobody would vote. Every vote does count and if you want something done, you have to reach out and be sure you're active about it.

YN: Have you learned anything about Washington, D.C., that you might not have known before you came here?

RG3: The actual town is smaller than people think. I haven't had that much of a chance to do that much in D.C., seeing that we're based in Northern Virginia and our stadium's in Maryland. But I've been able to go out on the tours and eat dinner in D.C. and it's awesome. The little experiences I've had there have been great. It's crazy how many tourists you see. People think the traffic in D.C. is all from people who live there, but it's all the tourists who are going to see the monuments. It's a really attractive place, not only for people who live around this area but for people from around the world.

YN: You grew up in a Christian home and went to a Baptist university. Have you found a home church in the D.C. area?

RG3: I go to a church in this area, but I haven't necessarily found a home church yet. I'm still in the process of finding that.

YN: Where do you attend?

RG3: I go to Cornerstone [Fellowship Church.]

YN: Has your faith shaped the way you view politics or policy?

RG3: It shapes everybody's view. To me, you don't directly relate it, but my faith makes me who I am. When it comes to that, my beliefs are not strict to only what the Bible says. I'm influenced by. ... You probably can't point out exactly what it shapes, but it does shape you.

YN: You have said that you want to try and unite the city. President Obama said he was impressed that you could bring people together in ways politicians can't. What's it like being the only person in this town who can unite Republicans and Democrats?

RG3: It's more than just me. It's this team. Whenever you play a sport, you can be extremely powerful in certain situations and when it comes to uniting people, football teams tend to do that. ... As long as we can continue to go out and inspire people, maybe D.C. will be better off.

YN: You came from a military family. Have you had the chance to interact with service members in D.C. since you've lived here?

RG3: I have had the chance to interact. Wounded Warriors, they bring them out to our practices and our games all the time and we get a chance to speak with them. Just the other day, we had a squad come out to one of our practices. It's just good to be able to show them the gratitude we have for them. My parents both served and my dad went over to the war. It's people like that who helped my dad come back. I lived in a military town so I understand that there's a lot of families who don't have their families come back. You want to show the appreciation they have for them, those who come back and the ones who have fallen because they're all ones who are helping keep this country upright.

YN: How do you feel about the winding down the military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan?

RG3: Everybody wants world peace, and there's no telling if it will ever happen. But the one thing we can do is try to make sure that it's facilitated quicker without force. It's not me, I don't run the country.

YN: Have you thought of joining the military?

RG3: Not at this time. You never know what could happen, but at this time it hasn't crossed my mind.

YN: Let's switch to football for a minute. Can you talk a bit about the transition from being a college player to joining the NFL? Is it any different?

RG3: The game is different because everybody on the field is an All-American. The game is faster, the hashes are closer so the hits look more devastating. In that instance, it has changed but it's still football. As a competitor you rise to the challenge. You can still have fun, just make sure you don't change your mindset towards it. There's far more that goes into being a professional athlete than being a college athlete. So many differences that people don't realize. It's not just about playing football and getting paid to do it. There's a lot of things that you have to deal with.

YN: Have those things surprised you?

RG3: Not necessarily surprised me but it's different when what you dream of as a kid and you think, "I want to be a professional athlete." You don't necessarily say, "I want to deal with all these other things as well."

YN: What are those things?

RG3: It's not something to complain about, but just the major difference between college and the pros is that in college you're guaranteed four to five years so long as you don't do anything criminally and in the pros you're guaranteed one day because you can be cut the next. The fact that you see guys' dreams taken away from them; some guys get chances some guys don't. Some guys are on the team and the next day they're cut because they needed a wide receiver because one of the other receivers got hurt and they cut the [defensive back]. It's tough to have to deal with all those emotional highs and lows.

When it comes to contract and money disputes, all those things are far more complicated than people think. Off the field things with media interviews and fines and things like that. It's such a business that people don't realize it from the outside in, but when you're in the inside looking out you kind of see the freedom you had as a college player is basically gone when you're professional.

YN: You have mentioned a love of video games. You did a joint promotion with "Assassins Creed III" and Rock the Vote. Have you found time to make your way through the game yet?

RG3: "Assassins Creed III" is an awesome game. I've had the chance to play it and I'm about 45 percent the way through. I only can play here and there. I can't play nonstop for a long time. It's a fun game and I've played it before. ... It won't change the way you view history but it's certainly a twist on it and it's very interesting the way they go about explaining the story and the historical events. It's really cool.