After three uneventful seasons backing up Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, Robert Griffin III has once again found himself on the free-agent market in 2021. However, the man who took the NFL by storm with one of the great rookie seasons of all time appears to have received little-to-no interest from teams up to this point.
The legend known as RGIII is now a 31-year-old quarterback who struggles to stay healthy even in minimal backup appearances.
In his lone relief start in 2020 for Baltimore, he went down with a hamstring injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12. He had completed seven of his 12 passes up to that point with a pick-six. He had shown some flashes of the amazing athleticism that had once made him star as he picked up 68 yards on the ground.
Griffin actually led the team in rushing for the game. However, it was on one of those rushes that he sustained an injury and essentially closed the book on his career in Baltimore.
Griffin did his best to sell himself to teams during the offseason. He involved himself in Twitter threads suggesting he join the Dallas Cowboys to back up Dak Prescott, for instance. However, the Cowboys never came calling.
As far out of the limelight, as he has fallen as a player, Griffin has managed to stay relevant in the national media over the years. People still flock to his controversial soundbites, especially about the abrupt end to his Redskins career, and he knows it.
The Bidding War
Griffin clearly has the ability to generate content and maintain a huge audience for his thoughts and opinions. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Griffin has attracted interest from Networks for his services as a sports commentator.
In fact, it was reported by Pro Football Talk among others that both ESPN and Fox executives were “blown away” by his performance in recent interviews. Rumor has it that RGIII now finds himself in a bidding war between these two sports giants.
It is reported that ESPN would like to bring Griffin, a former Heisman trophy winner at Baylor, on as a college football analyst while also utilizing him on NFL shows including “Get Up.”
It is certainly a huge statement about Griffin’s intelligence and insight into his sport that he has attracted such a high level of interest in the sports media. However, let’s take a look back at exactly how Griffin, an injury-prone backup quarterback who is currently out of the league, has maintained such a high profile over the years.
In March of this year, he made headlines for his comments on a Bleacher Report show, in which he discussed Viking’s quarterback Kirk Cousin’s feelings toward the team drafting Kellon Mond. Griffin accused Cousins, who had supplanted Griffin as starting quarterback in Washington more than a half-decade ago, of simply “collecting checks” in Minnesota while leading them 8-8 and 9-7 seasons.
He has also maintained a strong social media presence. He shared a heartfelt viral seven-minute video on Twitter last summer commenting on the Black Lives Matter and race relations in America, and can also be seen sharing his sense of humor through memes and gifs. He has also produced content with his wife, Estonian heptathlete Grete Sadeiko Griffin. Griffin is a very intelligent man who understands the social media landscape and how to utilize it.
A year earlier, in June of 2020, he again made headlines for his comments about being set up to fail during his Washington days on John Keim’s podcast. He claimed that then-Redskins coach Mike Shanahan never wanted him from “Day 1.”
Rewind a little further to 2017. This was a year in which Griffin spent a full season out of the league, and he still found a way to draw attention and stay relevant in the sports media as the former track star pursued qualifying for the Olympics.
All of this is to say that Griffin is clearly a charismatic, talented individual. Regardless of his playing career, he has remained a relevant member of pop culture and the face of his sport.
However, it would not be fair to altogether diminish how truly great RGIII was as a player in college and during his rookie season in the NFL. Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year at Baylor in 2011 after throwing for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He added 699 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. It was no surprise that he found himself in a dead heat with Andrew Luck to see who would be the first pick in the 2012 draft. In the end, Griffin went number two overall to the former Washington Redskins.
Griffin hit the ground running, literally and figuratively, in the NFL. In his rookie season, he threw 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He added 815 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns. This truly electric season earned him a Pro Bowl nod and Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He also led Washington to their first playoff appearance since 2007.
However, it was during this incredible season that Griffin’s injury woes struck early and struck hard. He suffered an LCL sprain in Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens. He then re-injured the same knee in the Wildcard playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Griffin would spend his first true NFL offseason recovering from surgery on both his LCL and ACL. He would never fully recover, and would never come close to achieving the greatness he showed in that rookie season.
Despite his brief prime as a player, perhaps the single greatest factor that has kept Griffin relevant over the years was the unlimited potential he had shown before the injuries, and the imaginations of fans trying to picture what could have been had he stayed healthy.
The Next Chapter
Robert Griffin III has already shown an amazing ability to entertain, communicate and share his insight and experiences with the sports world. He has shown charisma as a player and an online influencer.
While the unbelievable physical gifts that earned him a Heisman trophy and an Offensive Rookie of the Year award may have left him behind, it only makes sense that, whether at ESPN, Fox, or otherwise, he utilizes his intellectual gifts in the next chapter of his career.