Five years ago, he was the toast of the NFL. Young, wealthy, inordinately skilled. He was voted the NFC’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Today, just weeks before the start of NFL camps, he remains unsigned.
So, what does the future hold for Robert Griffin III? It’s a question without a clear answer, for sure. If you posed it to the Magic 8-ball, you’d get that “Reply hazy: Try again later” response.
More so than any other professional sports league, the NFL resembles a meat grinder. It chews up athletes and spits them out, sometimes never to be heard from again.
Yet, for extremely talented football players, the NFL can also be a league of second chances. And no one has ever denied that Griffin boasts loads of talent.
The criticism centers on his durability. It’s a completely fair question – is RG3 built to withstand the punishment of the NFL?
No way – at least not so far. Here’s just a partial list of Griffin’s injuries in his five-year pro football career: ACL and LCL tears in his knee, a dislocated ankle, a concussion and a shoulder fracture. Over the past three seasons, he has played in only 14 games, including missing the entire 2015 campaign.
Last year, in his new gig with the Cleveland Browns, Griffin didn’t make it through September without getting hurt. In March of this year, the Browns cut Griffin, eating the final year of his contract.
Obviously Griffin could never suit up again and he’ll forever remain revered and beloved here in Waco. It’s fair to call McLane Stadium the house that RG3 built. His statue is parked outside of the stadium for a reason.
But he’s only 27 years old. He shouldn’t be done … should he? I mean, Tom Brady is talking about playing until he’s 45.
Let’s explore a few possibilities for Griffin’s next step.
Some NFL team signs him – Maybe not right away, mind you. But it’s not hard to envision a situation where Griffin gets a chance at some point during the regular season.
Injuries happen every year. It’s football – every team is one hit away from their depth pool springing a leak. Griffin is hardly the only dude who’s been banged up in his career. Given that more and more NFL teams are carrying just two QBs on their active roster, job openings will undoubtedly spring up, once the training room starts accepting new customers.
Say, if you’re the Jacksonville Jaguars and Blake Bortles goes down in Week 2 with an eight-week injury, wouldn’t you consider signing Griffin or Colin Kaepernick rather than handing off the reins to veteran journeyman Chad Henne?
He defects to Canada – Plenty of players have taken a layover in the CFL on their journey to (or back to) the NFL. Most famously, Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia. Vince Young recently tried to revive his career in Saskatchewan, of all places.
If Griffin were willing to venture up that road, he’d have plenty of CFL options. Starting with the Hamilton (Ontario) Tiger-Cats, which purchased the negotiation rights to Griffin, Kaepernick and – get this – Johnny Manziel back in March.
Griffin would sell tickets. No worry there. And, who knows, the CFL could provide just the training ground he needs to learn how to play QB in the pros without ending up in a full body cast.
He returns to track and field – I remember when Griffin was setting ablaze the various athletic venues of Copperas Cove, Texas. Watching him then, a decade or so ago, I always thought his most promising future resided in track and field.
Given that he won a Heisman Trophy and became the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, I can admit I was probably wrong about that one. But make no mistake – Griffin was an absolute beast on the track. In high school, he was just milliseconds away from setting a national record in the 300 hurdles.
In his first college meet, in what should have been his final semester of high school, the then 18-year-old Griffin ran the NCAA’s fifth-fastest time in the 400-meter hurdles. I remember standing on the infield for that race and watching in awe as Griffin buzzed around the curve, then stomped off the track in disgust when he didn’t win the race. (He was just two weeks removed from spring football practice). He went on to win the Big 12 title in that event and finish third at the NCAA meet before hanging up his singlet for a helmet.
Griffin has often talked about wanting to one day compete in the Olympics. He still tweets regularly about track, and his fiancée Grete Sadeiko is a former hepathlete at Florida State. (Griffin divorced his first wife, Rebecca, last year.)
If Griffin gave up football now to concentrate full-time on the hurdles, could he make the U.S. team for the 2020 Games in Tokyo?
Put it this way: I wouldn’t count him out.
He walks away from sports altogether — When Griffin was a kid, he mentioned two dreams above all others.
He wanted to play in the NBA, and he wanted to be a lawyer.
He gave up the basketball dream, but law school remains a possibility. He always excelled in his studies – graduating from both high school and Baylor in less than four years. And anyone who has ever poked a microphone or tape recorder in his face could vouch for the fact that Griffin is a rather polished orator.
Articulate and telegenic, Griffin landed a bevy of endorsement deals before he ever threw his first NFL pass.
So, maybe if he didn’t become Counselor Griffin, he might consider becoming Mayor Griffin or Congressman Griffin or, dare I say, President Griffin. Countless athletes have transferred their attentions to politics after their sports careers wrapped, including Jack Kemp, Bill Bradley, Tom Osborne, Steve Largent, J.C. Watts and Kevin “KJ” Johnson. Griffin wouldn’t even be the first former Redskins quarterback to join the political fray; Heath Shuler represented North Carolina in Congress from 2007-13.
Griffin may yet experience an NFL revival. Or he may be done from a pro football perspective. His future remains fuzzier than his old Superman socks.
“Live your life so it doesn’t live you,” Griffin tweeted earlier this week.
Where will life take RG3 next? Only God knows.