- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Robert Griffin Jr. has been a father for 27 of his 47 years on this earth. The beginning, with all its thrills and wonder, featured that awakening all new parents experience. Children, it turns out, come with no instruction booklet. Somehow the manufacturer always leaves that out of the box. 

He and his wife, Jacqueline, both retired Army sergeants, needed direction, a mission statement. And so they agreed to a promise.

“Our kids would do much better than what we did,” Jacqueline recalled this week, “and we are going to sacrifice our entire lives and put anything we want to do on hold until these kids are successful adults.”

Robert Jr. has exerted himself to uphold that vow ever since. It led him to a fluorescently lit concrete hallway deep inside Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on the evening of Sept. 16. Griffin’s youngest child and only son, his namesake, became a working man this summer, and that day was his worst yet on the job.

Robert Griffin III, quarterback of the Washington Redskins, lost for the first time as a pro. It was only seven days after a magical debut in which he justified all those who labeled him the downtrodden franchise’s savior. Elation and excitement yielded to disappointment and regret.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, left, is joined by his father Robert Griffin Jr. as he displays his sock and new jersey while speaking to reporters after he was selected as the second pick overall by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall, Thursday, April 26, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, left, is joined by his father Robert ... more >

Griffin Jr. waited for his son outside the door to the locker room. The son, dressed in a gray suit over an argyle sweater, finally emerged and walked right into his father’s open arms. From 27 years of fatherhood, Griffin Jr. knows when the moment demands a hug.

Their embrace, that day and any day, embodies who Robert Griffin III is as a man and who RG3 is as a football player. His relationship with his father has molded him into the total package we continue to get to know — the charismatic leader, the deft thrower, the witty spokesman and the blazing runner. Theirs is a powerful bond forged by mutual admiration, respect and love.

“You always give credit where credit is due — to high school coaches, college coaches — but my dad, the foundation that he built with me, is where all of this came from,” Robert III said. “The speed, the determination, the mindset, just the natural belief that you can do anything you put your mind to, it all comes from my dad.”

Everyone knows an example of a father pushing his son in athletics to the point of negative fallout. Everyone is familiar with the son who lashes out from his father’s strict oversight. There are famous examples — tennis star Andre Agassi and football phenom Todd Marinovich, to name two — and there are many more anonymous ones in Everytown, USA.

What makes Robert III’s relationship with his father so special is that it works in spite of and because of the intensity. And, to measure it by how seamlessly Robert III has transitioned to his role with the Redskins, it works spectacularly.

To know Robert Griffin III, then, is to comprehend the mind and methods of the man who helped raise him and coach him. As Robert III wades into the pool of superstardom at age 22, earning his father’s pride remains one of the driving forces in his life.

“It’s paramount to me — and I didn’t even know what that word meant until he taught it to me a few years ago,” the son said Tuesday through that infectious grin of his. “It’s really important. He was there for me. He sacrificed so much for me, so I want to make sure I make him proud.”

Faith and discipline

Two sets of values comprise the foundation for the Griffins’ promise to each other in raising their two daughters (Jihan, 27, and Dejon, 24) and Robert III. They are Christians, first and foremost, and they hold in high esteem the core principles of the Army.

Those values manifested differently in the two main dynamics of Robert Jr.’s relationship with Robert III. There’s the father-son aspect and the coach-athlete element. Those never were completely separate, but both were instrumental in grooming the celebrated son we now see.

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