When RG3 stormed the NFL scene in 2012, there wasn’t a superlative in existence that some overzealous sports talking head or Redskins fanatic didn’t bestow upon him.
Despite being the second player and QB (after Andrew Luck) selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, RG3 quickly rose to the top of an illustrious rookie QB class that saw an NFL-record five rookies begin the season as starters.
No. 1 overall pick Luck (Indianapolis), RG3 (Washington). Russell Wilson (a third-round steal for Seattle Seahawks) and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and much less-heralded Brandon Weeden (Cleveland) changed the landscape, altered the philosophy and raised the bar for how the NFL would approach rookie QBs moving forward.
While Luck was considered by most in NFL nation to be the crèam of the crop, RG3’s electric performances and the incomparable magnificence of his ground and aerial game catapulted him to more immediate fame. He became ESPN’s darling and with every exciting week of action his legend grew. He was clearly the most popular rookie QB and almost instantly became one of the faces of the NFL.
None of the hotshot QBs could mess with RG3 as far as media celebrity, hype, marketing and fan appeal went. But we know that the RG3 saga, which began about as fortunately and impactful as any pro career could, took a twisted turn in that fateful wild card playoff game in his rookie season against Seattle when his ACL buckled and along with it the Super Bowl dreams of Washington Redskins fans who had anointed him the future and chosen one in the African-American community. A guy destined for deeper impact than football.
When he got hurt, cooler heads attributed the injury to his reckless style, which sparked an ongoing debate about how much RG3 should run vs. pass moving forward. The majority of heads blamed former HC Mike Shanahan.
They said his “old school” mentality led to a mishandling of RG3 and put the young QB in harm’s way. RG3 himself hinted at it several times. Therefore, the people agreed. He was protected and embraced in Muhammad Ali fashion and despite the fact that he seemed to be suffering from a potentially deadly case of overexposure, his jersey was selling like hotcakes and he was handling his business.
His rookie season-ending injury was just the first of several injuries, management clashes and personality flaws that set Griffin's career on a downward spiral from king status to Dead Man Walking.
As RG3 tried to transform, re-invent and recapture his former brilliance, Wilson won a Super Bowl and Luck became an All-Pro and a Top 5 QB in the game.
In his latest episode, RG3 suffered another setback in a 21-17 exhibition victory over the Detroit Lions last Thursday night. The Redskins franchise QB got mauled by a menacing Detroit defense, repeatedly getting slammed to the turf. He was sacked three times on five pass attempts, fumbled twice, was hit six times on eight drop backs.
On his final play, early in the second quarter, he started to scramble but dropped the ball without being touched and as he went down to the ground to try and retrieve the ball, Lions defensive end Corey Wootton landed on Griffin.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Griffin had a concussion but that the QB's right shoulder, which got a stinger would be OK. Gruden also said he had "no idea" how long Griffin will be sidelined with the head injury.
Fragility has always been a question with RG3. He’s a slender dude and not built for NFL longevity like a Luck or Cam Newton. Durability was a huge factor in why many scouts and analysts preferred Luck over RG3 in the ’12 Draft. Now he’s getting concussions when players fall on him. That’s not a good look. He’s become the NFL’s Eric Lindros.
Things just haven’t been the same for RG3 since that magical 2012. He was a young sensation with an unmatched skill set for a Redskins team that some were picking to ride” The Third Rail” all the way to a Lombardi Trophy. It appears as if all of his NFL blessings came in the first 16 games of his career.
Maybe he set a personal standard that was impossible to improve upon.
Griffin wore number 10 for the Redskins, with "Griffin III" on the back of his jersey. This made him the first player in the history of the major pro sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA) to have a Roman numeral on the back of his jersey.
Griffin became the NFL's first starting quarterback who was born in the 1990s and his arrival ushered in an obsession with the spread option and solidified the future of dual-threat QBs as having a permanent place on NFL rosters.
In his official debut as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Griffin opened the Redskins' season by tossing for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushing for a modest 42 yards in a 40–32 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
That inaugural performance earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week – the first time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback has been given that honor off the rip.
He became a social media darling but he didn’t maintain the flow on the field. This is like the third crossroads for a fourth-year QB who has never played a full season. In 2014, he appeared in a career-low 9 games.
The White Shadow AKA Kirk Cousins has haunted him from jump. In actuality, since that 2012 season when the world became infatuated with option QBs, the pocket-passer has made a comeback. The prevailing NFL philosophy remains that pocket passers win Super Bowls.
The lone exception is Ciara’s beau Wilson, who proved that an all-time great D could help lift an undersized but tough and clutch spread QB to the NFL promise land.
Not sure that RG3 has Wilson’s grit, but his resilience is still in tact.
According to washingtonpost.com, With Skins "supporters cheering him on, Robert Griffin III showed no aftereffect of his concussion, which he had suffered less than 72 hours earlier, during Sunday’s Fan Day at Redskins Park, where the starting quarterback took full part in a two-hour practice.
Griffin barked out signals, unleashed a full array of throws and even took off scrambling under pressure, eluding defenders as he streaked into the end zone for a would-be touchdown at one point.
He has certainly lost some luster, but some still maintain hope that we will see the old RG3 again and not the almost pathetic figure we have grown accustomed to smdh’ing on Instagram, while he is laid out on the turf in some fetal position.
I respect the fact that he bounced back so quickly, but what kind of shape is he in as a player? Even Vanilla Ice resurfaced after Suge Knight held him off the balcony, but he didn't return as a Grammy-winning rapper. He was a reality show joke.
Long live he who was once thought to be king.