Former Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler returned to Redskins Park for the first time since the franchise traded him in 1996. And he came for the same reason everyone else did: Robert Griffin III.

“The expectations are extremely high,” Shuler said. “That’s the reason I’m here. I watched this kid play and I was so excited like everyone else. He was the person I was hoping the Redskins would select.”

Shuler, who met Griffin at a National Prayer Breakfast, was the last high profile quarterback the Redskins drafted. He was the third overall pick in 1994, but did not have the same hype. He also didn’t have any success in Washington, partly because of his own play and also because of foot injuries.

Regardless, he knows what Griffin is stepping into. Shuler was coming to a team with a new coach in Norv Turner and three years removed from a Super Bowl triumph. Griffin does have an experienced coach in Mike Shanahan and there’s no recent glory as a franchise. But he also has more hype than any other rookie who has come to Washington.

“There will be added pressure to him,” said Shuler, accompanied by his 11-year-old son, Navy. “He’s someone who can handle it. He’s handled pressure before. I’m encouraged. I’m able to see his interviews and he does an incredible job. We have to be mindful it takes everyone and we’ll have ups and downs as a team. We have to hang in there and pull through and support him.”

Like Griffin, Shuler came in with another rookie quarterback in Gus Frerotte, who obviously wound up with a better Redskins – and NFL – career. Shuler, who is a U.S. Representative from North Carolina’s 11th district – he announced in February he won’t be running for a third term – said he’s glad for what he endured in Washington. And the NFL.

“It was difficult,” he said. “I had come from Tennessee and everything had been so good and the path was always a paved road and no bumps along the way and everything was perfect and you had these obstacles in the road. How are you going to handle it? I’m a better person based on what I had to go through here.

“I always thought the world revolved around this field. And now I’ve been all over the world and I realize it’s important to a very small percentage of people, but it’s important to us Redskins fans.”

And, yes, Shuler still considers himself a Redskins fan. He said he even had a Redskins cap in the car. The one thing he seemed to regret is being unable to finish his career while with Oakland in 1998. Doctors told him his foot was too bad to continue playing.

“I got to spend time with Jon Gruden and those quarterback meetings were far different than any of the other quarterback meetings I’ve been to,” Shuler said. “It was like I never knew what I really missed. I didn’t know what it was like. I’d been a starter in two places and it was a much better situation.”