The 2011 Manning award recipient was born in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture on February 12, 1990, to two U.S. Army sergeants, Robert Griffin Jr. and his wife Jacqueline. The family later relocated to Fort Hood, Texas in 1997. Even back then, Griffin had set high goals for himself, as his military father constantly pushed him to succeed. According to ESPN’s Tom Friend, “Griffin III, as a young child, said he wanted to be like Michael Jordan, so Griffin Jr. made him dribble a basketball for an hour with his left hand. Griffin’s father would say, “If you’re going to do something, why not be the best?” In another instance showing Griffin Jr.’s emphasis on toughness and hard work, he forced Griffin III to run up a hill with a tire tied to his back in a quest to make him the “base’s fastest child.” Having mental toughness and the value of hard work instilled in him early, Griffin was ready to set the high school sports world ablaze.
The Copperas Cove High School class president showed great athleticism during high school as a basketball player, but even more so as a football and track star. In 2007, Griffin reached new heights in his track career when he was named to the 2007 Boys All-USA Track and Field team alongside current Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best. A passing and rushing machine on the gridiron, the speedy passer led his team to a 2007 Class 4A Division I championship appearance, and was soon recognized by scouting organization Rivals as the nation’s fourth best high school dual-threat quarterback and Texas’s 42nd ranked high school football player. The renowned scouting organization also ranked him as the second best high school signal caller out of Texas in 2008, trailing only Stanford superstar Andrew Luck. After finishing seventh in his class, the 17-year-old tri-athlete brought his near- 4.0 GPA to Baylor after formally committing to the University on December 3, 2007.
After arriving at Baylor, the 2008 Sporting News and Rivals.com All-American freshman immediately set out to conquer collegiate track. Bolting past opponents, Griffin won the 2008 Big 12 and NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in the 400-meter hurdles, breaking the record at the latter. Despite ultimately not qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, he commendably advanced to the semifinals in the U.S. Olympic Trials.
2011 will be remembered by the Baylor Bears as the year that Griffin, who debuted for Baylor in 2008, transformed an average football program into a top-15 team for a season. It all started when RG3 scored five touchdowns while leading Baylor in a gigantic 50-48 upset against Texas Christian. The win stirred up early Heisman Trophy talk regarding Griffin and, more importantly, pushed Baylor up into the Associated Press’s Top 25 Poll rankings for only the third time in 12 years. Griffin and the Bears rarely disappointed all season long and finished their season as the 13th ranked team in the Associated Press Poll with a 10-3 record. The team capped off the season with the highest scoring bowl game in NCAA history, a wild 67-56 shootout win over the Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl.
According to Daniel Whyte III from BlackChristianNews.com, the Heisman Trophy winner and University Baptist Church attendee fully acknowledges that God used Him to make a difference through football. “Whenever you can be a Christian and come to a Christian university like Baylor and make a difference like this whole football team has, it’s great. [God] gives you the stage to make a difference and not to just talk about yourself, but lift Him up. There are a lot of different types of Christians everywhere, but my biggest thing is it’s not our job to judge; it’s just our job to go out, praise Him, let people know what He’s doing, and let people follow if they want to. So I praise God, I thank him for everything. Purposefully, you live every day for Him, and when He gives you the opportunity to speak up for Him or to do something in His name, you do it.” After earning a 3.67 GPA, two Dean’s List appearances, and a political science degree, RG3 entered the 2012 NFL Draft on January 11, 2012.
People have only seen a small sample size of this fledgling young man, yet the Washington Redskins were satisfied enough with him before his professional debut that they sacrificed their top three draft picks over the course of three seasons to rest the organization’s future on Griffin’s shoulders. Once again, why would Washington take such a bold risk? Coach Mike Shanahan and upper management saw rare intangible qualities in Griffin; qualities like humility, intelligence, work ethic and leadership combined with top-notch athleticism. These qualities are the ingredients required to inspire change. The consistently underachieving Redskins knew this and desperately went after the man they perceived could instill hope in their fan base and pile up the wins.
The skilled rookie is held to high expectations, but God gave him the ability to meet them. Just like the prized quarterback, God has given each person extraordinary physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gifts that make each individual unique and valuable. As we read in Psalm 139:14, “Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.”