In a one-day football camp, you can only teach so much.
Now, that didn’t stop Robert Griffin III from trying to impart some techniques to the dozens of young players who attended his inaugural RG3 Quarterback Academy on Saturday at Baylor. That’s why the kids were there, to soak up some practical wisdom from one of Baylor’s all-time great players and the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner.
But some lessons are broader than how to properly grip the ball. Griffin said he hoped that if the campers learned nothing else, that they picked up on his message of perseverance.
“The adversity I’ve been through, and the perseverance that I’ve shown through that, I think it’s a testament to anybody,” Griffin said, during a break for lunch at Saturday’s camp. “I think everybody in this (interview) circle has probably had something that they’ve gone through that they had to fight through.
“I just want people to know that even when it looks like it’s over – in 2017, everyone thought it was over – I never believed that. And I kept working. You can get angry and stop, or you can get angry and keep working. That’s what I think people have to do when they’re going through tough times.”
At 29, Griffin has seen a bit of everything in his career. He went from being on top of the football world – the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, the Rookie of the Year, a Pro Bowl selection for the Washington Redskins – to out of the league by 2017.
“It’s tough when you go from being the guy, being QB1 all the time, and earning that. You earn that through what you do on the field, what you do in practice,” Griffin said. “To go to QB None, in 2017, I wasn’t on the field. That was tough for me. What it taught me through that year and when I was able to come back and do what I’ve done since, is that this is what God has called me to do.”
As Griffin said, he didn’t stop working. And when the Baltimore Ravens called him in the spring of 2018 to see if he’d deliver some passes in a workout with receivers Willie Snead and Michael Floyd, he was ready.
“I … impressed them enough that they signed me. Then impressed them enough in the preseason that they kept me,” Griffin said. “Impressed them enough through that that they didn’t trade me, when they could have. To me, that speaks to the belief they have in me and it speaks to anyone out there who is going through a hard time or isn’t where they want to be. Just keep working hard and eventually you’ll get back.”
Griffin still isn’t where he wants to be. He wants to be a starter again, to get another shot at being a franchise quarterback. His role with the Ravens is that of a backup and mentor to second-year QB Lamar Jackson. He has embraced that assignment, and said that he has found peace and a semblance of stability in Baltimore.
But one also gets the sense that his inner competitor – the guy who at Baylor always found it difficult to praise the opponent after a loss, instead focusing on what the Bears didn’t do right – has not disappeared. He talks about being as healthy as perhaps he’s ever been. Someday, he hopes to show that on the field.
“Being able to get my mind right, get my body right, so I feel fast, I feel strong,” said Griffin, who threw only four passes for the Ravens last season. “Mentally, I’m probably in a much better place than I ever have been in my life, because I’ve been through so much. And I think that that’s where people have to understand, when you’re going through things, it can do one of two things to you. It can break you down and completely destroy you, or it can build you up and prepare you for what’s coming.”
Griffin certainly looked right at home on Saturday at Baylor’s Allison Indoor Practice Facility. He, of course, remembers when the building was constructed. To be back was both surreal and a joy for the former BU great.
He connected with Baylor coach Matt Rhule soon after Rhule was hired in late 2016. The genesis for the camp started then, and has been in the works ever since. Griffin said that the idea is to make the camp an annual event, so “that we can do this for 20, 30 years.”
Who knows? Maybe by this time next year Griffin will have a starting gig. Then his comeback sermon might carry even more weight.
“I’m 29, not 39, so I still have time. Nothing in the NFL is given to you, it’s always earned,” Griffin said. “So that’s what I’ve been trying to do every single day, and (the Ravens have) given me an opportunity to do that, and I’m thankful.”