Robert Griffin III's phenomenal success in his rookie season grabbed the imagination not just of the Redskins faithful but of myriad fans across the league.
Left in the rearview mirror are the years of despair; defeat piled on top of defeat; a paucity of victories in a city hungry for a winner; and a numbing game of quarterback musical chairs. Griffin, 22 – widely regarded as the team's savior – brought a new dimension to his position with his ability to evade defenders and other formidable skills including his athleticism, world-class speed, unerring accuracy and a bazooka for an arm.
The former Baylor University standout put up un-rookie-like numbers while leading his team to the NFC East title: 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions which produced a 102.4 quarterback rating during the regular season. Griffin's exploits have placed him in the running for the league's most valuable player.
Winning has been hard to come by for the team. Since 2000, the Redskins have only two winning seasons and before this year, it had only moved into the postseason once.
'Skins fans were giddy with excitement when their beloved team overcame a 3-6 start, ripped off seven straight wins and on the way to the division title trampled over perennial divisional foes Dallas, Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
Outside of the feel-good quotient, the team brought a $500,000 windfall to Prince George's County.
County Executive Rushern Baker III noted over the weekend that the Redskins earning the right to host the playoff game translated into more than half a million dollars in additional revenues for the county from direct amusement and admissions taxes. In addition, hundreds of thousands of dollars more streamed into county coffers in indirect revenue from retail, hotel, and other economic opportunities spurred by the Redskins' success on the field.
Thomas Himler, the county's deputy chief administrative officer said the team plays 10 games at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., per season, each game generates $500,000 in admissions and amusement taxes, and the team pays the county $5 million annually.
"We know how much the 'Skins generate for a game and we added one game," he said.
Trying to arrive at the indirect financial benefits the game produced, such as retail sales, money from hotel taxes, benefits to small businesses and hotels and other economic opportunities is more difficult to gauge.
"There's not a way to get an accurate count of the number of people who stayed at hotels, for example, so we stayed away from quantifying," Himler said.
The Redskins' tremendous fan support this season mirrors the NFL's continued popularity. In 2011, the average attendance at games was 64,706.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Redskins team is worth $1.56 billion and ranks second as the most valuable franchise in the National Football League. Billionaire owner Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999 for $750 million.
Griffin, who the Redskins selected as their No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft made $3.8 million.
The team's crushing 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and the injury to Griffin's knee has given fans pause, but many of them see a much brighter future for their often beleaguered team because Griffin is now leading it; and some even feel confident to say out loud that there are one or more Super Bowls in the Redskins' future.
Alvon Smith, a 53-year-old Columbia Heights resident who has been following the team since he was eight is one of those fans. Success, he said, will come as Griffin carries the team to the Promised Land.
"Griffin is more mobile than any quarterback we've ever had," Smith said as he tailgated before Sunday's game. "He's more active and more youthful. We have about five or six good years in him. It's a possibility that we'll reach the Super Bowl."
The Prince George's County coffers will fatten considerably if the team's success explodes. The greater the team's success and the deeper it goes into the playoffs, the more that will benefit the county financially.