Image by: Keith Allison
By Thomas Stone
Robert Griffin III has turned into something more than just quarterback of the Washington Redskins. Inside the Beltway, Griffin is something of a hero.
He had a great rookie season by proving that he could run the ball without compromising his ability to pass. For the season, Griffin III, or RG3, passed for 3,200 yards, tossed 20 touchdowns, and was picked off only five times. That type of turnover ratio is almost unheard of with rookie quarterbacks.
Yet, even with his on-the-field success, Griffin couldn’t escape the parameters of his skin color.
Because Griffin is black and can run the ball, many figured that he would be a reincarnation of Michael Vick, a quarterback whose legs win more games than his arm. Griffin was much more than that, but it didn’t stop his detractors. He has a white fiancée, a bothersome matter to some, like former ESPN commentator Rob Parker.
Back in December, Parker called RG3 a “cornball brother” because the color of the skin of the woman he chose to marry somehow devalued him as a black man.
There is a silver lining around this mess of a cloud. Besides the comparisons to Vick and almost having his culture credentials snatched away, most of of the things you hear about RG3 are positive. Folks like Rob Parker aren’t in the majority any longer.
And because Griffin is exemplary on the field, he has aided in changing the perception of “black quarterbacks” – you know, the black guys who know how to run fast, but lack the confidence to make a good forward pass.
Handles The Ball Like He Does Life
Griffin’s demeanor when he’s away from the gridiron is also turning heads. Unlike Vick, Griffin hasn’t had to endure questions about his character. RG3 conducts himself like a professional when talking to a reporter, signing an autograph, or dealing with fans. Griffin seems to understand his title, his environment, and maybe most importantly, the task handed to him.
His development has also been helped by the success of another minority quarterback, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson’s stat line reads just like Griffin’s – he had over 3,000 passing yards, tossed 26 touchdowns, and rarely turned the ball over.
Both guys have had such great play on the field that it is forcing people to look at them for who they are: Good NFL quarterbacks, not amazing dark-skinned curiosities playing a position normally dominated by white players.
For players like Griffin and Wilson, we can trace their plight back to Michael Vick, Randall Cunningham, Doug Williams, and even Marlin Briscoe, the first black quarterback to start an NFL game. The 2012 evolution of the black QB on the field will only help minority quarterbacks who come after them.
It’s getting so good for both men that talk of a Super Bowl victory for Griffin and Wilson isn’t that far fetched. Griffin III’s team was eliminated by the Seahawks last weekend in the first round of the NFL playoffs, with Wilson playing hero for Seattle.
Even though the Redskins are no longer in the hunt for a Super Bowl title this season, they are expected to compete for years to come. We’ll see how the Seahawks finish the season, but considering how far Wilson has led them this season, their 2012 campaign has been a major success.
Griffin and Wilson will only continue to grow as the years go by, and in doing so, they just may revolutionize the quarterback position all together. And this revolution will most certainly to be televised, printed on t-shirts and sitting on the couches of late-night talk shows.