Now that Robert Griffin III is earning mention in New York Times op-ed pieces — columnist Maureen Dowd paired RG3 and President Barack Obama as "electrifying rookies" — the Washington Redskins quarterback was asked about the challenges of being an NFL star in a town where politics is so important.

"Everyone's looking at what you're doing, they're looking at what you're saying, and when it comes to a town like D.C. that is so political, you've just got to make sure that you try to be politically correct every chance you get," Griffin said, breaking into a wide smile. "So my politically correct answer is, 'No comment' a lot of times."

The man known as RG3 pointed out that he was a political science major in college at Baylor, where he won the Heisman Trophy.

So, he explained, "I definitely pay attention to politics."

But, Griffin added, "I don't get involved in politics, 'cause there's a few things you don't talk about — race, religion and politics — and I stick to that."


SIGNATURE MOVE: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is accustomed to stopping to sign autographs, but it's usually not Kansas City star running back Jamaal Charles doing the asking.

Charles caught up with Manning by the family waiting area outside Arrowhead Stadium after the Broncos-Chiefs game last week and asked for Manning's autograph. The four-time MVP happily obliged.

This sort of exchange happens all the time, but a Kansas City TV camera crew was in the area for some reason Sunday and captured the moment. So both Charles and Manning were asked about the autograph this week.

Charles said he got the autograph for his mother: "She was shy. So I told my mom, 'Give me the paper. I'll go do it for you.' " He added that players sign for each other as a matter of routine, suggesting, "We're like brothers, a fraternity in the game."

Manning was perturbed by the media's intrusion into a private moment between players.

"I don't know why the cameraman was in that zone. Kind of annoying," Manning said. "But yeah, for families, you sign for someone's brother or mother or fan. That's what you do. Players are constantly trading, signing for teammates. Everyone's got a high school auction or something. That's part of the deal."

Manning grew up with a famous father and learned from a young age to accommodate autograph seekers.

"After wins or losses, he always took time to sign," Manning said. "It makes an impression on young kids."

But Manning defends athletes who get a bum rap for not signing everything all the time.

"Sometimes I hear, 'so and so's a jerk.' Why's he a jerk? 'Well, he was sprinting to catch his flight. I asked for an autograph and he wouldn't sign.' But maybe he had to catch the flight," Manning said.


COACHING CONFIDENTIAL: In his new book, "Coaching Confidential," New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers takes a behind-the-scenes look at the NFL's coaching fraternity, as well as at a variety of owners and players.

Among the fascinating items is Steve Young admitting he intentionally fired the ball at Raiders owner Al Davis during warm-ups before a Raiders-49ers game in 1994.

Myers writes that Davis had a routine of walking to the other team's side of the 50-yard line before a game to watch the opponent get ready. The 49ers players were not happy and complained to offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, who once was the head coach of the Raiders and was fired after 20 games by Davis.

On the last play of warm-ups, Shanahan ordered one of his quarterbacks to throw the ball at Davis.

Shanahan first said it was Steve Bono who threw the ball, but when reminded that Bono was playing in Kansas City by then, he said it was Elvis Grbac. Shanahan was just trying to protect Young, a good friend.

"Ten years after this happened, I was walking out of a stadium on a Monday night, and Al came up to me," Hall of Fame quarterback Young said. "He told me that he knew it was me."

Shanahan also was involved in some intrigue before he took the Broncos' coaching position in 1995.

He was offered the chance to return to Denver in 1993 as head coach, but turned it down to stay as 49ers offensive coordinator, annoyed at how he was portrayed as a backstabber by Dan Reeves when Shanahan was fired as Broncos offensive coordinator after the 1991 season.

John Elway, a close friend of Shanahan's, was upset that Shanahan turned down the job and even offered to pay the $300,000 in salary difference between the team and Shanahan during their negotiations. Shanahan declined and Elway didn't talk to him for a year.

But after Wade Phillips was fired two years later, Shanahan took the job — and won two Super Bowls with Elway at quarterback.


SMILING DOWN: When Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick showed up in the locker room on his birthday, he found a present on the top shelf of his locker: a framed photo of coach Marvin Lewis smiling down at him.

He doesn't know who put it there. He's afraid to ask. He's not about to take it down, though he's hoping to add to it.

"I've got to get some family portraits up there," he said.

Kirkpatrick is finally starting to settle in — not only in the locker room, but on the defense as well.

The 17th overall pick in the draft missed all of preseason and the first half of the season because of a knee injury suffered during summer workouts. His role has changed a bit from game to game. He got in for 10 plays against Denver on special teams, using his speed to cover punts.

Kirkpatrick got in 15 plays on defense in a lopsided win over the Giants, and 26 plays in a rout of Kansas City. He was restricted to one play on defense and 17 on special teams during a 34-10 win over Oakland last Sunday. The coaches are easing him in, depending upon the game situation.

"I feel like I'm still going through preseason," Kirkpatrick said. "Every week I've got to get better. I'm coming along, though. I feel confident and pretty happy with what they're doing right now."

Lewis likes what the rookie has done with his limited chances.

"He's getting a lot of good practice snaps," Lewis said. "You can't ask for better mentors than he's got, because the guys that are playing in front of him are rooting for him. They spent more time asking me when Dre is going to play. I said, 'Well, as soon as you're ready to sit down.' "


AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Arnie Stapleton, and Sports Writers Joe Kay and Howard Fendrich, contributed to this story.


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