When Robert Griffin III made up his mind to pursue football instead of basketball or track and field (which he could have just as easily succeeded in), he did so with a plan, and that plan was to play the quarterback position. Not as a running QB, mind you—and certainly not as a wide receiver or defensive back as big-name schools Oklahoma and LSU recruited him to play—but as a normal, pocket passing quarterback. It was his dream to do so and one of the reasons he stuck to his commitment with Baylor instead of succumbing to the lure of some of the nation’s top programs.
In the first game of Griffin’s 2008 freshman season, his dream would finally be realized. Griffin took over for Miami transfer Kirby Freeman to start the second quarter and though Baylor ended up losing the game; their new QB would never look back. In fact, Griffin went on to gain Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors despite the team going 4-8 on the season.
When the 2009 season began for the Baylor Bears, there were high hopes that RGIII (the nickname he acquired during his freshman year) would help put an end the school’s longest stretch without a Bowl appearance; 15 years. However, in just the third game of the season, the dreams of so many Baylor fans were crushed when Griffin tore his right ACL during their first offensive series against Northwestern State. It was a non-contact injury in which his knee simply buckled after planting his right foot on an option play. Griffin heard a pop, laid on the ground for I’m sure seemed like an eternity, and that was that.
Actually, it wasn’t.
Being the kind of gutsy player that he is, Griffin went to the sideline, got his knee wrapped, and came back out to lead Baylor on six scoring drives before finally leaving at halftime. It wasn’t until the next day that he found out he had torn his ACL.
Griffin was of course devastated to hear the news, but as he would say later, he was more bummed out for his teammates and university than for himself because 2009 was the year they were finally going to go to a Bowl game. That’s just the way he is.
As he habitually does, however, Robert Griffin III rose up to make the best of a situation. His rehab, grueling as it was, made him both stronger and faster than he was before sustaining the injury. In addition, he was finally able to take the time he needed to study defenses and learn the nuances of the quarterback position. As a result, he became a more cerebral player as opposed to one more dependent on his athleticism.
Fast-forward to 2012.
Three years removed from his first ACL surgery, Griffin is as strong as ever. Except now, he is playing against the best of the best as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins instead of facing baby-faced college kids in the Big 12 conference. His NFL career would start off famously, as even the most lethal players came to fear his abilities after seeing what he could do throughout his first month in the league.
Then, in Week 14 with his team on a roll and in the playoff hunt at 6-6, BAM! Griffin takes a hit to his right knee from a Baltimore Ravens player and needs to be helped off the field. The Redskins would go on to win the game, but the worst was feared for their young, star quarterback. It turned out to be merely a sprain, but Griffin would miss the following week’s game and look hobbled at best when he did return in Week 16. He went on to lead Washington into the playoffs with a 10-6 record, but he clearly was not the same player from before the injury.
Some believe he should have been kept out of game action until his knee was fully healed, others say that what would happen next would have happened either way.
On January 6, 2013, in the Redskins Wildcard Playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, the unthinkable happened again. As it was with his first ACL tear, Griffin fell victim to a non-contact injury in which an obviously weakened knee buckled beneath him. And yes, it was his RIGHT knee, AGAIN.
The worst was confirmed the following day when the MRIs showed that Robert Griffin III not only tore his right ACL, but also did damage to the LCL and medial meniscus as well.
Rehab for the Redskins franchise player will be as long and as grueling as it was for him back in 2009, while the main concern continues to be whether or not he will return as the same player he was before this second right knee reconstruction.
Never fear, because if Griffin takes the same approach to the rehabilitation process as he did back in 2009, he could come back even better.