L.A. and its sports fans love redemption stories, which is why the Rams should sign Robert Griffin III

L.A. and its sports fans love redemption stories, which is why the Rams should sign Robert Griffin III
Quarterback Robert Griffin III was the second overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Redskins, but is expected to become a free agent before March 9. (Associated Press)

In 1972, a failed and unemployed NFL quarterback came to Los Angeles for a fresh start.

Two seasons later, James Harris led the Rams to the NFC championship game.


In 1978, another failed and unemployed NFL quarterback came west for new life.

Five seasons later, Jim Plunkett helped the Raiders give Los Angeles its only Super Bowl championship.

Hollywood is all about revivals, sequels and second chances. Its sports landscape mirrors this penchant for forgiveness and forgetfulness. Bring us your underachievers, your misunderstood, your shamed, your shunned, and we will give them a stage and a chance to shine.

Shaquille O'Neal arrived here trailed by Orlando gossip that he was an immature oaf who couldn't win a championship. Lakers fans didn't listen. Lakers fans didn't care. He could entertain, so he was embraced and empowered and eventually paid off in triplicate.

Manny Ramirez was chased here from Boston with New Englanders screaming about his selfishness, glad to be rid of his shtick. Dodgers fans didn't listen. Dodgers fans didn't care. He came out swinging and smiling, and soon Dodger Stadium was dressed in Mannywood signs and dreadlock wigs. Although he later turned out to be a steroid-fueled fraud, Ramirez was generously allowed a briefly brilliant resurrection.

Unlike their brethren from more deeply rooted corners of the country, Los Angeles sports fans don't buy into stereotypes, don't listen to grudges, and don't judge newcomers until the curtains open.

Which pretty much makes this the perfect place for Robert Griffin III.

Like Plunkett, he's a failed former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Like Harris, he will soon be an unemployed quarterback.

His star power, his star potential, and all this sweet symmetry should be too much for the returning Rams to resist. Not to mention, can you imagine bringing back a quarterback whose draft rights they once traded away for a bunch of picks whom they turned into impact players?

The Rams need a splash, they need a quarterback who can give them hope, and Griffin would be both.

The team from Washington with the terrible nickname has already declared that it will release Griffin before the NFL year begins on March 9, thus beginning the off-season's most celebrated free-agent chase.

RG Free. RG Spree. The rhymes with his RG3 nickname will be terrible. The cynicism will be rampant. He didn't play a down last season, he was active for only one game, and, because of his inability to figure out the NFL's pocket-passing game coupled with knee surgery that slowed his once-feared running, he's considered by many to be a bust.

But also consider this: He's still only 26. He still has a 90.6 career passer rating and 40 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He still was NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2012 and, while he suffered a serious knee injury late in that season, he has had three full years of recovery.


He was discarded by two Washington head coaches, and he comes with a lot of baggage, but all of that will be met here with a lot of shrugs.

Griffin reportedly is a giant ego unwilling to accept blame for his mistakes? Not here, not for long. Few things surely can be more humbling for a quarterback than entering a team on a depth chart behind Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Sean Mannion.

Griffin reportedly basked in his status as one of Washington's biggest celebrities, bragging to teammates of his influence, using social media to promote himself apart from his team? Not here, not for long. He probably won't even be the biggest name on his Westside street, and as any Los Angeles athlete will attest, any attempt at social climbing among the world's biggest true celebrities becomes silly.

Griffin will fit in here because, well, he will fit in here. The reborn Rams offer the perfect environment for rediscovery, the perfect town for outrunning your past, and the perfectly desperate coach to make it all happen. The embattled Jeff Fisher, who has yet to break even in any of his four Rams seasons, needs to find a jolt, and while the brilliant Todd Gurley gives the Rams highlights, only a quarterback can give them wins.

Besides, let's face it, the Rams need to do something. They've been in town barely six weeks and already their buzz has been swallowed up by this town's many hungry sports dramas, from Kobe to Blake to Puig.

The Rams recently made what would have been huge news back in St. Louis when they released longtime local stars Chris Long, James Laurinaitis and Jared Cook. Out here, it was like, who . . . what?

Robert Griffin would give the Rams a who, and a what, a potentially reborn star on a quest for redemption in a town built on both.

Follow Bill Plaschke on Twitter @billplaschke