“People had accepted the fact that, ‘OK, he’s the starting quarterback, but he’s not the typical jock, dummy, doing a bunch of girls and things like that,’ ” Griffin said. “I was seventh in my [high school] class. Is that popular as a football player? Probably not, but I was able to make it popular. It was because I was successful. Because I was interesting, people accepted me for who I was.”
Now, on the cusp of NFL stardom, Griffin’s outgoing nature seems so natural. If he’s forcing it, it does not show. He’s funny and charismatic and engaging in a special way. The introvert seems genuinely extroverted.
“You’ll fall in love with his personality as much as anything,” said quarterbacks coach Terry Shea, who trained Griffin during the pre-draft process. “He’s very endearing. He embraces people. I can see why his teammates at Baylor played at a very high level for him.”
Parental guidance required
Hip-hop beats softly thump inside Lavo Nightclub on 58th Street, just east of Central Park. Griffin’s itinerary on this Tuesday night has led him to a party hosted by Electronic Arts. He graces the cover of its video game, NCAA Football ‘13. Griffin has more than a dozen interviews scheduled. More marketing gold.
Other prospects projected to be drafted in the first round attend, as well. But 30 minutes after everyone else finishes their media obligations, Griffin is speaking to yet another national radio station.
His personality attracts him to marketers, but players don’t end up on the cover of video games without supreme talent. It’s fitting, then, that Robert Jr. and Jacqueline are here, too. They sit together in a velvet-rope-protected section of the club along with Robert III’s fiancee, Rebecca Liddicoat, and the younger of his two elder sisters, Dejon.
“They’re both loving, caring, genuine people that wake up every day with a plan and on a mission,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “That’s what Robert does.”
Robert Jr. helped train his son for football, track and basketball the best way he knew how: with meticulous planning and tireless effort.
“In the army, everything is about preparation,” Robert Jr. said. “If you’re prepared, you expect to perform. When I come out here, I expect Robert to perform or I tell him don’t come out here. That’s the honest truth.”
Robert III would tie around his waist a rope attached to a tire, and, with his dad supervising, he would run up a street near their house three times a week after high school football practice.
Film study was a major component of the relationship between father and son. Robert Jr. would show his son tapes of quarterbacks such as Ken Stabler, Randall Cunningham and Tony Romo. They would analyze the mechanics of certain throws and then practice emulating them.
Robert Jr. was an ardent Philadelphia Eagles fan, and he has shared with Robert III his critiques of past Redskins quarterbacks. The names Theismann, Kilmer, Schroeder and Williams are familiar to both.
When Robert III tore a ligament in his right knee three games into his second season at Baylor, Dad saw it as an opportunity to mold his son into a better thrower.