If Robert Griffin has a semblance of the intelligence we all gave him credit for seemingly a lifetime ago, he recognizes how far he has fallen — from franchise cornerstone to humble benchwarmer, talking last week about a new NFL life as the backup to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
But even if you lived through RG3’s Redskins’ drama — from the tweets to the Superman socks to the victim-impact statement he left behind — it’s tough to fully appreciate his plummet without revisiting those glory days, particularly when it all began.
From a Washington Post July 2012 profile:
“The son of two retired Army sergeants has pursued one mission above all others: Becoming a Redskin. And not just a Redskin, but someone who can lead grown men to greatness, reward the faith the organization has shown in him and live up to the expectations of a fan base that has come to see him as nothing less than the franchise’s savior.
“‘He clearly knows,” said his father, Robert Griffin, “he has to deliver.’”
From there, to this, nearly six years later:
“I knew coming into this situation that this is Joe’s team. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn from him. Whatever capacity the coaches ask me to help, that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to compete. I’m here to get better every single day.”
That is the essence of being humbled.
If it is true humility — and not another RG3 show — may be the difference between the once-celebrated quarterback having any sort of career, backup or otherwise, in the NFL.
Griffin came to Washington in 2012 as the anointed “savior” — crowned so by Redskins owner Dan Snyder and the Prince of Darkness, general manager Bruce Allen. It was heady stuff for a young man from Copperas Cove, Texas, coming to the capital of the free world as royalty. Then again, he had always been considered so. Back in Baylor, where he helped build a new football stadium while raising the profile of the football program, they built a statue for him.
How many backup quarterbacks can say that?
If Griffin is as smart as we all thought when he arrived in Washington in 2012 — some, including myself, were so impressed that we thought his next stop would be Capitol Hill — he has to realize that this is likely his last and only chance at playing in the real football league.
Baltimore is not Cleveland, where Griffin was signed in 2016 after leaving Washington and again heralded as a savior of sorts, a young man wronged by the Redskins who would show everyone what a mistake they’d made.
Baltimore is not a place where they felt the earth move, like they did in Cleveland two years ago, according to nfl.com’s Jeff Darlington:
“In a recent meeting that included a number of team executives, Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson explained with wide eyes to those in attendance, including owner Jimmy Haslam and his wife, what he saw during a private workout from Robert Griffin III last week.
“Jackson explained how, at one point when Griffin rolled out in a full sprint to throw a pass, ‘it felt like the Earth moved beneath my feet,” according to team sources. He told them how Griffin’s accuracy in passing drills was ‘freakish.’ It was surreal and special. It was everything you remember from 2012 — and everything you have forgotten since.”
Looking back, maybe the earth didn’t move. Maybe it was just gas.
Griffin turned out to be a bust in Cleveland, unable to stay healthy and mediocre at best when he was on the field — though he did win the only game the franchise can claim as a victory over the last two seasons. And, if you’re a bust in Cleveland, there are few places left to fail. Not one team touched RG3 last year for any job — including backup, though he begged for work on social media.
This offseason, he got a break, landing a workout in Baltimore. But again, it’s not Cleveland. While Ravens fans may be down on Flacco, he has a Super Bowl ring on his finger, one that he put there himself with his remarkable 2012 postseason run. The Ravens are not an orphan team, available for any quarterback to adopt. Like Griffin himself said, it is Flacco’s team.
If Griffin can still be on the Baltimore roster as a backup quarterback when the 2018 season opens, he will have accomplished something — and it will have been built on the humility he appears to have finally learned.
⦁ Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.
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