Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is a game-changer, a player who not only changes games but also has changed the game of football with his combination of speed, smarts and skill. He is Randall Cunningham. He is Steve Young. He is Brett Favre. He is all of those things.
But is he an era or a moment?
Will Griffin became a standard by which other quarterbacks are measured for years to come — like a Steve Young or a Brett Favre — or will he be the answer to a trivia question about the greatest one-hit wonder in NFL history?
Will Griffin be standing in the stadium at Canton years from now delivering his Hall of Fame induction speech? Or will he be briefly mentioned as a teammate by Alfred Morris in his induction speech?
Can he last as long as Jared as a Subway pitchman? Or will he be selling ShamWows on late-night TV?
Following his knee injury last season that ultimately led to Griffin being a one-legged quarterback, crumbling to the ground in the playoff loss to Seattle in January, and surgery for torn knee ligaments — his second in four years — the debate has raged over how this talented quarterback was used last year and how he should be used moving forward.
He ran the ball 120 times for 815 yards — impressive numbers for a quarterback, one of only three who ran for more than 800 yards in a season since 1970.
His father, Robert Griffin II, believes those numbers add up to a short NFL career.
“You tell a kid that you want him to be there for 14 years, guess what?” he told GQ magazine. “Historical data will tell you that the more he runs, the more subject he is to career injury. You name one quarterback out there that would rather run the football than throw the football, and I’ll show you a loser.”
And in case you didn’t get the message, Griffin senior told WJLA-TV (Channel 7), when asked if his son should run the ball less, “I think that message was loud and clear. What they have to do in order to have Robert, you know, be what they want him to be, because you don’t want him to limp into the playoffs.”
So Griffin’s father would say, no, his son is not long for the NFL if he is used the same way that made him such a successful and electric rookie last season — as if passing the ball guarantees a long NFL career. You might want to ask Kevin Kolb, whose NFL career may be over after suffering a concussion in the Bills preseason loss to the Redskins — one in a series of career concussions.
Robert Griffin III had one recorded concussion last year — that we know of.
All that said, if I was staking my franchise on the long-term viability of Griffin’s career, I’d take that bet, for the same reasons that I thought before the 2012 season started, we might see something kind of different with this young player.