People still whisper the name Robert Griffin III.
You don’t want to say it too loud because it conjures a wide arrange of emotions from pity to nausea to excitement when reminiscing on the Baylor product’s unforgettable 2012 NFL rookie season. It was like a flash in the night. To some it was the equivalent of dreaming you won the lottery -- one of those dreams that felt super real -- and then waking up on the 25th floor of the building and stepping over piss-infested hallways to get to the elevator.
As Barack Obama was ascending to a second term as the first African-American President in U.S. history, RGIII stormed the NFL scene and became the leader of the NFL’s wave of flavorful dual-skill QBs.
These days, Obama is in his final few months of leading the nation with dignity, effort, strength, diplomacy and inclusiveness. His executive business is almost complete. While RGIII is feeling the spirit of a new beginning, a new vigor that comes with reincarnation, resurrection and reconciling unfinished business.
Just as the impact of RGIII, once considered a leading figure in shaping black sports culture, begins to fade from America’s sports conscience, our eyes are lured to the city of Cleveland where football’s forgotten savior is beginning his long road back to stardom as the starting QB for the Browns.
(Photo Credit: newsnet5.com)
Griffin went a modest 4 for 8 for 67 yards in his preseason debut, a 17-11 loss to the Green Bay Packers. However, his first pass of the game was a bomb to former QB Terrelle Pryor. It was one of those patented RGIII rainbow throws that the speedy Pryor jetted under and ate some turf in the process.
Any football fan observing the game at that time had to raise their eyebrows just a bit. Then, the heart starts racing. The DVR starts flipping back to get a taste of that last play once it really sinks in that it was the former Heisman winner, standing in the pocket, getting touched and still delivering a perfect deep ball. The announcers even got caught up in the moment, basically saying after one pass that “RGIII still got it.”
Griffin's surely got the motivation to prove everyone wrong. A chip on his shoulder the size of a boulder and judging from his second preseason appearance, the skills to still pay the bills.
His far-fetched dream of a ceremonious return to NFL top-shotta became a reality for one half against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday.
The former Rookie of the Year had a swag that we haven’t seen from him in a while. In displaying a keen poise, leadership and execution that he couldn’t fully command in the preseason opener, he finished the game 6-of-8 for 96 yards and two touchdown passes, with 36 yards on the ground.
Dare I say it?.....It was a vintage RG3 performance.
It’s been years since we've seen one that didn’t end in disaster. The No. 2 overall pick hasn’t played since participating in nine games in 2014, before Kirk Cousins, injuries and attitude ended his D.C. fairy tale.
One other key observation is that RGIII also hooked up with Pryor again on a 50-yard touchdown bomb. Cleveland’s offense is already more explosive than it’s been in years and the franchise has never seen a QB with Griffin’s potential, athleticism and versatility.
His second TD was the most evident sign of Griffin’s maturation as he dipped to his right in the pocket, stayed poised and found tight end Gary Barnidge for his second touchdown pass of the game.
One thing we do know is that RGIII can ball if he has protection from the offensive line. Cleveland’s O-Line is suspect, but his running ability should neutralize that deficiency a bit. However, getting hit is another story and we know contact with defenders outside of the pocket has been the former Washington Redskins star’s downfall.
If he is going to ball like this all season, then Hue Jackson's reclamation project is ahead of schedule.
Griffin's situation is similar to Derrick Rose’s new journey with the Knicks. Two former sports gods, impeded by injuries and pushed to the back of the elite player gravy train, when they were used to eating first. Rose has a chance to revive his superstar status with a team desperate for success. RG3’s goal is to finally provide the Brown’s with elite stability at the QB position, a franchise signal caller to excite the fan base and electrify the league.
(Photo Credit: newsnet5.com)
This is the shot RGIII has been waiting for. If his scale of improvement continues to spike, then expect to start seeing those No. 10 Cleveland Browns jerseys heating up the sales racks.
The man that became a myth is morphing into a man again. This could be the beginning of something special. A sports saga for the ages rich with all of the lessons that remain a part of sports’ socially-redeeming value; agony , defeat, rejection, redemption, re-invention, reality acceptance. He’s even got himself a new lady and it’s always better the second time around in love and in football.