Robert Lee Griffin III was born on February 12, 1990 in Okinawa, Japan. (Click here for a complete listing of today's sports birthdays.) His parents, Robert Jr. and Jacqueline, were sergeants in the U.S. Army. During young Robert’s childhood, the family was stationed at Ft. Lewis in Washington State, and also lived in New Orleans—where his father’s family was from. They ultimately settled in Copperas Cove, Texas, outside Ft. Hood. Robert’s athletic prowess comes from his father, who was a high school basketball and track star during the early 1980s.
Robert Jr. and Jackie first met at Kennedy High School in New Orleans. She went on to college, and he joined the military before graduation. They met again four years later after Jackie joined the army. Both were stationed in Colorado. They were inseparable after that.
The couple were married and had three children. Robert’s two older sisters are Jihan and De’Jon. As a boy, Robert wore his hair braided into a long ponytail. That led to a lot of teasing among the other army kids.
Robert first gained athletic notoriety as a hurdler on the AAU track team coached by his father. He won a national championship in his age group. But football was his first love. Robert loved John Elway and his the never-say-die style of play.
Back then, he was known to one and all as “Little Robert.” But his fame grew—particularly as a high school upperclassman—when everyone started calling him RGIII. At Copperas Cove High School, Robert played football and baseball, and also ran for the track team. He won the starting quarterback job for Jack Welch’s Bulldawgs as a junior. That season, 2006, Robert passed for more than 2,000 yards and had 25 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He also rushed for 876 yards and eight touchdowns, receiving First-Team All-District honors.
Meanwhile, Robert was making highlight-reel dunks on the hardwood and smashing state records in the hurdles. In 2007, he was name Gatorade Texas Track & Field Athlete of the Year, establishing new standards in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. His time in 300 was .01 seconds off the U.S. high school record.
Robert’s senior football season capped off a brilliant prep career. Betyween running and passing, he gained for more than 2,500 yards again and led the team to the state championship game with a 13–1 record. The Bulldawgs fell just short of the state title.
Despite being busy with football—and functioning as class president at Copperas Cove—Robert actually wrapped up all of his class requirements in the fall semester and decided to start taking college classes. But where? National scouts rated Robert among the Top 5 dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, and he was pursued aggressively by several major programs, including Tulsa, Illinois, Oregon, Washington State and Stanford.
The school that had appealed most to Robert was Houston; he liked head coach Art Briles. But when Briles announced he was headed to Baylor University for the 2008 season, Robert set his sights on Waco and decided to become a Bear. The school’s fine track team was also an incentive to attend Baylor.
Robert began taking classeson the Baylor campus in the spring of 2008, which made him eligible for the track team. He shattered the Regional record in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Midwest Regionals and previously finished first in that event at the Big 12 Conference Championships. Robert made it all the way to the Olympic trials, but he came up short of making the team.
ON THE RISE
Robert won the starting quarterback job for the Bears as a freshman and started 11 of the Bears’ 12 games that season. Thin on talent and playing in the tough Big 12, Baylor was picked by most experts to finish in the cellar of the South Division in 2008. The Bears played six Top 25 teams—including #1 Oklahoma—and lost to all of them. However, they went 42 against their other opponents, including impressive wins over Washington State and Texas A&M. The Bears did end up last in the division, but the win over the Aggies meant that they shared the basement with A&M.
Robert had his best game against the Aggies, completing 13 of 23 passes for two touchdowns in a 41–21 thumping. He was one of several team leaders that included Jason Smith, Jordan Lake and Joe Pawalek. Robert copped Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors, completing 60 percent of his throws for more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was second on the team to Jay Finley in rushing yards with 843 yards.
Robert’s sophomore season was cut short during the third game. The Bears were on their way to demolishing Northwestern State when he suffered a slight ACL tear. Up 41–10, the team saw no to put him back in for the second half. As it turned out, the injury required surgery and the decision was to keep him out the rest of the season. That also made 2009 a redshirt season, meaning he could play three more years on the varsity.
Robert entered 2010 with great strength and confidence, and it showed. Baylor won seven of its first nine games and snuck into the Top 25 national rankings that fall. The Bears scored four touchdowns or more in 10 of their first 11 games, and Robert made plays all over the field. Heading into the final three weeks of the season, Baylor had a mathematical chance to win the Big 12 South. Unfortunately, the teamfell to Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Those were the three teams that ended up 6–2 to Baylor’s 4–4.
Still, on the season, the Bears went 6–6 and earned their first Bowl bid since 1994. They faced Illinois in the Texas Bowl at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Robert threw for over 300 yards, but Baylor was forced to play catch up most of the game and ended up losing 38–14.
On the year, Robert’s numbers showed a blossoming talent. He completed 304 of 454 passes for 3,501 yards. He threw for 22 touchdowns and was picked off only right times. He scored another eight touchdowns on the ground, amassing 462 rushing yards. Finley cracked the 1,000 yard mark and contributed another dozen scores to the team’s high-powered offense.
MAKING HIS MARK
Three seasons into his college career, Robert had a lot of pro scouts thinking he might make a good NFL wide receiver. It was his fourth season in Waco that made him a legitimate pro quarterback prospect. That campaign also vaulted him into the thick of the Heisman Trophy voting.
Robert completed 52 fewer passes than in 2010, but he racked up almost 800 more yards and 15 more touchdowns. He also ran for 699 yards and scored another 10 times. The fireworks started in the very first game, a wild shootout against 15th-ranked Texas Christian. Robert threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught a pass on what would prove to be the winning drive in a 50–49 victory.
In the team’s second game, Baylor blanked Stephen F. Austin, 48–0. The Bears followed that with a 56–32 stomping of Rice. Robert nearly engineered a fourth straight win, over Kansas State, but the Bears fell short 36—35. Robert tossed five TD passes in that game.
The Bears found themselves ranked in the Top 25 once again, but holding on to that ranking proved difficult. Losses to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State dropped them off the list, but Robert led Baylor to five wins in their final five games to finish 9–3. The highlights of this amazing stretch run were an overtime win at Kansas, followed by a home win against Oklahoma.
The 45–38 victory over the Sooners was the first in school history for Baylor. Robert threw for 479 yards, capped off by a 34-yard scoring pass to Terrance Williams with time expiring to win the game. It was the culmination of a five-play, 80-yard drive that cemented Robert’s status as the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Baylor students stormed the field after the final gun to celebrate the biggest win in school history.
When Briles was asked to comment on his quarterback’s performance, he called it “another day at the office for Robert Griffin.”
Robert, who had by this time been named the Heisman winner, celebrated what would be his final college game by letting his teammates grab some of the glory. Running back Terrance Ganaway finished off three second-half drives with short touchdown runs, and he added two more long scoring romps for a total of five TDs. The outcome was in doubt until the Baylor defense made a stop with three minutes left, after which Ganaway made one of his long runs. Robert had nearly 300 yards passing in the game and scored a touchdown himself on a thrilling 24-yard run.
Two weeks after the game, Robert declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. The Indianapolis Colts had already positioned themselves to take Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, but RGIII was now the undisputed #2 passer in the draft. The team sitting second, the St. Louis Rams, already had a young passer they were happy with in Sam Bradford, so they dealt the pick to the Redskins, who exchanged four draft picks—including their first-round selections in 2013 and 2014.
The Redskins were a good fit for Robert. Head coach Mike Shanahan had helped John Elway become a Super Bowl champ in Denver. In Robert, he had a quarterback with similar athletic skills and great instincts. Robert relished the chance to return Washington to the top of the NFL. The Redskins surrounded him with solid players, including receiver Pierre Garcon, plucked off the Colts’ roster over the summer.
Just as Luck faces comparisons to Peyton Manning, Robert may spend the next few years being compared to the new Indianapolis passer. Although their skills are different, Robert may fare better, especially as a rookie,
That was certainly the case in his debut against the New Orleans Saints. Playing in enemy territory, Robert was magnificent in a 40-32 victory. The first TD pass of his pro career was an 88-yarder to Garcon, who hauled in a perfect throw at midfield and sprinted the rest of the way to paydirt. Robert finished with 320 yards through the air and two scores.
Despite Robert’s historic start, the Redskins struggled in the early going, falling to 3–6 aqs they headed into their November bye week. Their two victories came over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings. In the Minnesota game, Robert ran for a 76-yard touchdown one week after leaving a game with knee and head injuries. In only two of Washington’s losses were the Redskins out of the game in the fourth quarter
During their break, the players were asked to vote for a team co-captain. In a stunning move, they picked their rookie quarterback. It was the turning point in Washington’s season.
The Redskins did not lose another game. They blew out the Philadelphia Eagles to start the run, and every game after that was a close one. Robert meshed with his teammates beautifully, and another rookie—running back Alfred Morris—began piling up yards at a near-record rate. Another first-year player, Kirk Cousins, filled in for Robert in a December game against the Cleveland Browns. Robert had a sprained ACL in his right knee. Cousins led Washington to a 38–21 victory.
Robert’s second half was nothing short of spectacular. He had another 300-yard passing day in a win over Dallas, throwing four touchdown strikes for the second week in a row. The Redskins beat the Cowboys again on the season’s final weekend to finish 10–6 and win the NFC East. Robert ended his first year with 258 completions for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also ran for 815 yards and seven more touchdowns. His 102.4 passer rating was third-best in the NFL, and his 8.1 yards per passing attempt led the league. Robert also topped the NFL with 6.8 yards per rushing attempt.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Robert guided the Redskins to a quick lead at home against the Seattle Seahawks. But things soon unraveled for Washington. Robert, already playing on a gimpy knee, aggravated the injury and the Redskins fell apqrt on offense. He finally left he game in the second half. By then, Seattle was in full control, and fans were questioning why Shanahan had risked Robert’s health when he looked so clearly hobbled. After the game, RGIII announced that the decision to play was his.
A few days later, Robert underwent surgery to repair his injured right knee. Renownded orthopedist James Andrews performed the procedure and repaird two damaged ligaments. Andrews later pronounced that RGIII would return to full health, but the timetable on his rehab was uncertain. With Adrian Peterson’s miraculous recovery from a severe knee injury in 2012, the expectations for Robert are very high. Will he be back on the field for the start of the 2013 season? Will he regain all his speed and mobility? If RGIII proved anything in his rookie season, only the most foolish fans and opponents will bet against him.
ROBERT THE PLAYER
The Redskins have had many fine leaders at quarterback during their history, but in terms of all-around football skills, Robert may be their best since Sammy Baugh—or at least since Sonny Jurgensen. He has a strong arm, great foot speed and excellent vision. Another asset for Robert is his ability to make quality passes on the run. What’s surprising is that he is able to limit mistakes when he’s scrambling. In 2012, he had the lowest interception percentage of any pro quarterback.
The Redskins will continue to let the offense develop around Robert as his experience and ability improve at the pro level. The team has good blockers and a running game that was reawakend by Alfred Morris. In college, Robert showed that he understood how to read defenses and make adjustments during games. This skill continues to serve him well as a young NFL quarterback.
Robert displayed great leadership skills at Baylor and continued to do so as an NFL rookie. It’s hard to ignore his infectious personality, and his combination of talents give teammates confidence that no game is ever out of reach.
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