Prior to 2011, the name Robert Griffin III wasn’t known outside of fans of Baylor football and the occasional Big 12 supporter. Just over a calendar year later, anyone with any knowledge of football knows the name RGIII.
The son of Robert Griffin Sr. and Jacqueline Griffin, RGIII moved around a lot as a child before settling in Copperas, Texas, in 1997 when he was 7 years old. Both his parents were Army sergeants and lived in Fort Hood to raise their budding star athlete.
Griffin attended Copperas Cove High School and was a two-sport star in both football and track. He combined for more than 2,400 yards his senior year of high school but didn’t draw much attention from major schools. RGIII chose Baylor because of its football and track programs — Griffin’s now-defunct track career included him participating in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400-meter hurdles.
Griffin did play his freshman year but was overlooked due to how poor the Bears were in 2008, when they finished 4-8. After being redshirted after a mild ACL tear in the third game of the 2009 season, Griffin regained the starting role a year later and led Baylor to a 7-6 record while throwing for 3,500 yards and rushing for another 635. Those were strong numbers, but nothing like what was to come.
And then there was 2011.
Entering the season, RGIII was at best recognized as a middle-of-the-road college quarterback. It took one game to begin the legend that has remained to this day, as he led the Bears to an upset over 15th-ranked TCU in the season opener, when he threw for 359 and five touchdowns. From that point on, college football fans across the country began to take notice of the young man in Waco.
A Heisman Trophy, a record-breaking bowl performance and a 3.67 GPA later, RGIII entered the 2012 NFL Draft as the second-rated quarterback, behind only Andrew Luck. The Redskins went all-in on Griffin, sending away their first-round draft picks until 2014 and a second-rounder in 2012 to move up four spots in the draft. Minus the sub-.500 record so far this season, it seems like the trade worked out for Washington.
Upon entering the NFL, Griffin immediately became a household name and a must-see player. His first game in the league included two touchdowns through the air and the debut of “Griffining.” Now, his jersey is among the top sellers in the league, and football fans in DC believe in the future of their franchise.
But why is this all relevant?
The Dallas Cowboys are hosting a game on Thanksgiving, an NFL tradition they’ve had since 1970, and this year Griffin and the Redskins are visiting in a key NFC East matchup. In the mammoth structure that is Cowboys Stadium, RGIII will return to his de facto home state for the first time, and on the national stage.
In a relatively short time span (just over a year, in fact) a quarterback out of a non-football powerhouse was drafted second overall, reinvigorated a once-dead franchise, and led a team toward a .500 record for the first time since 2008.
As the first quarterback born in the 1990s, RGIII is leading a youth movement in the NFL alongside Luck toward a new era in elite quarterbacks in the league. As a compliment to his style of play and leadership skills, the Skins named Griffin an offensive captain during their bye.
With a return to his home state on one of the NFL’s biggest stages, Griffin is poised to continue his statement as a top-notch signal caller in Washington. Fans will be glued to their televisions to watch the explosiveness in the house that Jerry Jones built.
What a way for a Texas kid to come home.