People have been asking me for a few days now, “How do I get famous?” By now I have my go-to line, “It’s easy. Just buy a welcome mat for a celebrity, then when they tweet you to say thanks, you’ll blow up.” That basically sums up my last 10 days.
In case you didn’t know, Robert Griffin III, the QB of the Redskins, is getting married this summer. 3 weeks ago, the media got ahold of his registry, Dan Steinberg (from the Washington Post) posted it on twitter, and I decided to check it out. At first I found things interesting, including the magnetic spice rack that Emily and I registered for a few years ago, but threw away after a year or so. Then I decided that it’d be nice to buy Mr. and Mrs. Griffin III a small token of encouragement from Emily and me. (She was thrilled at the idea) A $15 welcome mat was the winner. No big deal. Not expensive. Sent a nice note wishing them well with a scripture that was read at our wedding.
Fast forward to last week when RGIII posted a thank you on twitter to the fans who bought him gifts. I noticed that people were crushing him for receiving the gifts, claiming he should give them to charity, etc. I jumped in the twitter wars with a tweet of my own. Then within 30 seconds, this popped up:
I don’t know why I got a tweet back when he has a million followers, with tons of them tweeting him in that moment. But it immediately linked me to the situation…so when his thank you tweet went national, so did the vaunted welcome mat. It started with a mention in a Washington Post article, which led to an appearance on ABC7 news, which led to a radio interview with Grant Paulsen on 106.7 The Fan. It was in the paper the next day, and the story, which I believe had a lot to do with it being the offseason, was dead.
Until Saturday night, about 9:30, when we opened the mail and found this:
At first we weren’t going to post a picture of it, feeling like it was no longer news. But I decided that it was a good conclusion to the story, and could help silence those who were hating on ol’ Bob Griffin in the first place. So I sent out a tweet or two with the above photo. Within an hour it was spreading. The Post. CBS Sports. Bleacher Report. All before we went to bed that night. Then the next day I got messages all day from people asking to use the photo in their story. USA Today. Yahoo! Sports. The NFL posted a photo their instagram…16,000 likes the first day. Then the NFL Network contacted me asking if I’d come on the air. Who says no to that? Not this guy. So here’s how that went:
I have learned a couple of lessons through these 15 minutes of fame…
1- Many people assume the worst in people and you can’t let it get to you. By that I mean, I also received hateful and mean messages from fans who called us “stalkers”, “$%&#ing idiots”, “selfish morons”. Some even turned it into a race issue. I’ll leave those quotes out. People just couldn’t fathom that we’d be doing this simply to do something nice…pay it forward if you will.
2- There will be opportunities to shine the light on good things if you keep doing things for the right reasons. When one person recognized that I was a Christian artist/Christian/Worship Pastor, she asked something about why we wouldn’t have given that money to charity. Now, at first that frustrated me…for like 2 seconds. Then I saw the opportunity to do more good. So we made a matching donation, the $15 cost of the welcome mat, to Compassion International’s Child Survival Program. When I posted that info, it was retweeted by a couple of national news organization. So by knowing who we are and what we’re about, we turned criticism into more good with a little promotion for Compassion.
3- It’s important to have people around you to remind you who you are. I joked about being famous. People joked with me about being the newest “media superstar”, but at the end of the day, people told me my humility shined through. That’s a weird thing to consider about yourself, but I guess by never once trying to promote my music and by just being who I am, people were encouraged. Some friends reminded me that this was God’s favor for being faithful to who he calls us to be. Some said I was talking about the whole thing too much and it was getting annoying. Someone even created a parody twitter account, Welcome Mat Keith. So people want you to be yourself and the people around you help make who that self is.
All in all, the last couple of weeks have been crazy, fun, hilarious, and honestly a little bit tiring. Some people will look at this and say there’s no reason this should happen over a welcome mat and thank you note. But I know that it’s more than that. It’s about loving others and doing good. It’s about living out who God created you to be. And it’s about holding on for the ride when you get to share that with the world.
UPDATE – July 2013 – I was interviewed by Rich Campbell, formerly of the Washington Times, for an article about the psychology behind all the RGIII fandom. It was a fascinating article about why people feel so connected to Griffin. Check it out HERE.
UPDATE – August 2013 – NFL AM, the show I was interviewed for back in May, did a skit featuring a parody of RGIII. RGIII, played by Eric Davis, thanked me for the door mat that Coach Shanahan, played by Steve Wyche, wiped his feet on. This is the story that will never die. This has to be it, right?
UPDATE – May 2014 – My buddy invited me last minute to sit in a luxury box for Game 1 of the Wizards/Bulls playoff series. His client backed out last minute and I was the lucky recipient of the seat. The first three people in the box were me, my friend Bruno and Doug Williams. Yes, Redskins Super Bowl winning QB, Doug Williams. I noticed that this was a Comcast box and that Comcast partners, one of which was Bruno’s employer, used this box for Wizards and Caps games. I look over during the first quarter (after picking up my third plate of super-tasty catered dinner) and saw ol Robert and Rebecca Griffin. Typically, now that I’m an adult, if I see a pro-athlete out and about, I leave them alone to be a regular person. But there were only about 25 of us at this little shindig and everyone was talking to everyone. So I went up to RG and RG and we cut it up for a few. They both remembered my full name and asked about my wife. (A year or so earlier, Robert tweeted out a link to a fundraiser we started for Emily’s stem-cell transplant – read more here.) We talked about how funny the welcome mat incident was and how I was able to use it to talk him up and the highlight positive unifying things in the world…and he asked if I enjoyed the saga…which, yes, it was fun. He snapped a picture with everyone there, mingled like he was not a Heisman, Rookie-of-the-Year winning QB, and even took my advice when I suggested putting mac & cheese on top of the buffalo chicken. So whether RG is a Redskin for life or not, I’ll be rooting for Robert and Rebecca…not specifically in football, but so that they’ll be able to build relationships and impact people like they did us.