It’s always a bizarre experience when worlds collide. Friends meeting the new boyfriend. Co-workers meeting friends. Family meeting your book club or knitting circle or Sunday-Funday daytime drinking crew. Whatever the scenario, when two things you love separately are suddenly smushed together, it can be awkward. It can also be amazing, but it’s a slippery slope.
Such was the case when I saw a commercial promoting that Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III would be appearing on an upcoming episode of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” In that moment, the record playing in my head scratched to a halt. What now, HGTV?
I’ll go ahead and confess that I worship in the shiplap-laden church of Chip and Joanna Gaines. The hosts of the incredibly popular series set in their hometown of Waco, Texas, Chip and JoJo are “goals” in just about every sense. They’re just the right amount of imperfect and goofy and sweet. They’re raising an adorable family in an adorable farmhouse. JoJo’s impeccable taste is the stuff my Pinterest dreams are made of.
The Gaines are building a home-improvement empire on reclaimed wood and saying things like “y’all,” and here they are teaming up with the guy who was supposed to deliver Cleveland some football salvation but spent most of the 2016 NFL season on the IR?
The partnership makes about as much sense as Griffin’s place on the Browns’ roster in the first place, but here we are.
Despite my general uneasiness about worlds colliding, I had to give this episode a chance. Unfortunately, it aired directly opposite of President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address on Tuesday night. Fortunately, DVR. Wednesday evening I settled in, glass of red wine in hand and boyfriend freed of any required HGTV viewing, to watch.
Two minutes into the episode and the RG3/Chip and JoJo connection made more sense. The Gaines are huge fans of Baylor University, of which RGIII played for… a minor detail I probably used to know but had completely forgotten. Griffin’s Family of 3 foundation, which strives to support programs that benefit struggling military families, had reached out to Chip and JoJo in hopes of partnering on a special project.
— HGTV (@hgtv) January 11, 2017
The goal was simple but special: renovate the Waco home of Vietnam veteran Bill Graham and his late wife, Sherry. Graham, who enlisted in 1965, served 41 years in the Army and National Guard and now suffers from spinal stenosis and prostate cancer. Sherry, who was ill at the time of filming, passed away before the episode aired.
“Families like the Grahams, they pay the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” Griffin, whose own parents both served in the military, told the Gaines. “I feel like those are the people that we need to be helping more and more.”
The plan was to “open up” the Graham’s 800-square-foot home, creating more usable space to enjoy together with their children and grandchildren. RG3 jumped in to assist Chip on “Demo Day,” in which they donned matching T-shirts, smashed walls and high-fived a lot. Volunteers from the U.S. Army were brought in to assist with renovations, and, as with everything Joanna touches, the finished project was absolutely perfect and amazing. Grab your tissues, y’all.
— HGTV (@hgtv) January 11, 2017
No, YOU’RE crying. I wish I could tell you that RG3 was featured throughout the episode, but there wasn’t any more than his hammer-swinging on Demo Day. Commitments to the team kept him away from the Graham’s big reveal, but it was clear throughout the episode how much Griffin’s foundation contributed to the project.
“When I found out that RG3 and the Family of 3 foundation was going to do this, it was a total shock to me that I could be that lucky,” Graham said through tears. “Things like this just don’t happen to people very often.”
If you missed it, ESPN’s Pat McManamon reports that RG3’s episode of “Fixer Upper” will air again on Sunday, January 15, at 7 p.m. ET and Tuesday, January 17, at 8.