FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – He was a program changer, a Heisman Trophy winner who elevated a college football program that was a laughingstock for decades. Now Washington Redskins quarterback/scout team safety Robert Griffin III has gone from the NFL’s next big thing to an outcast, a pariah whose once bright future now clouded in doubt.
Griffin transformed a Baylor program that was terrible; this as a Bears football team that was last nationally ranked in 1993 before he became their starter. Now every year since he left the program, they’ve been ranked and this year they are squarely in the early national championship talk. He is the man who literally changed the face of Baylor’s football team, elevating them into a true national powerhouse.
And New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty, a midround pick of the Jets this spring, has benefited from Griffin’s presence as both a player and a person. Petty last spoke with his predecessor at Baylor during training camp as they continue to stay in contact post-college. He said that Griffin, now set to enter his third year in the league, gave him advice on how to handle the rigors of training camp as well as football.
His words: Be yourself.
In college, the two of them would go to movies together – “I love movies” Petty says – and it was a chance for them to bond. He knows well from the practice field to the meeting room and even to the movie theater the man who changed the Baylor program and took the NFL by storm just two years ago. Now Petty knows that ‘RGIII’ can overcome his benching and a swirl of negativity surrounding his stay in Washington.
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“It’s been unfortunate because I don’t think it’s always fair. I think the way the media works, once it opens up it’s a whole can of – it can be tough on anyone,” Petty told Metro. “He’s definitely strong enough to handle it. I know he can come out from all of this in a strong, positive way.”
The Redskins moved plenty of pieces to trade up in the draft to select Griffin second overall in 2012, with the rookie rewarding them with a Pro Bowl selection and being named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. But a knee injury late that year derailed his career and caused him to be shut down for the tail end of last year.
Now he has sunk so low that reports in September said that Griffin was playing safety on the scout team. It was a slap in the face to a player who had his body bent and broken trying to win ball games.
Petty understands all this and is confident that his former teammate can bounce back from the recent controversies surrounding his stay in the nation’s capital. After all, a man who could turn around a miserable college football program has the skillset to do the same thing in the NFL.
“As a player and what college football is getting to, he was exactly what we needed. Waco needed a spark, it was down in the dumps for a long time,” Petty said. “He provided a spark where guys who didn’t consider Baylor actually wanted to know what was going down there and be a part of it.”
Griffin is at the top of nearly every passing record in school history. Petty is second in almost all of those categories.