Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Robert Griffin III passed up path to 2020 Olympics for God's calling in NFL

When the Cleveland Browns released Robert Griffin III in March 2017, most people may have assumed the quarterback’s days in the NFL were over.

Griffin was only 27 at the time, and he’d finished just his fifth season in the pros.

But the body can only take so many beatings, and the former Washington Redskins phenom took plenty of them up to that point. After a Pro Bowl debut as the specimen selected one spot behind Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft, “RG3” missed 37 games between 2013-2016, dislocating his ankle, hurting his ACL and LCL, breaking a bone in his shoulder and suffering multiple concussions amid turmoil in D.C. and Cleveland.

That’s why it was unsurprising when Griffin remained out of the league in 2017. And it’s why, as Sam Fortier reported for The Washington Post, those close to him figured he’d move on from football altogether.

Griffin, in fact, even had a clear path away from the gridiron — and one that might have taken him straight to the 2020 Summer Olympics. While working out at a training facility near his home, the current Baltimore Ravens backup rededicated some time to track and field, in which he starred at Baylor. Before long, per Fortier, coach Brooks Johnson and workout partner Justin Gatlin, the famed U.S. sprinter, called Griffin “Olympic-level talent.” They saw a real opportunity for RG3 to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Games.

But then came what Griffin called a “message from God.”

It came in the form of a phone call from the Ravens, who had previously checked in on him as a free agent.

“Things don’t just happen by accident,” Griffin told Fortier, emphasizing his faith’s role in returning to football:

He does not feel a biological imperative to play football. He feels a religious one.

“I know what God’s called me to do,” Griffin said. “He’s called me to play football at a high level, inspire men, lead men. That’s why I didn’t have any doubt in what I was doing.”

Griffin, who is competing to enter 2018 as the Ravens’ No. 3 QB behind Joe Flacco and rookie Lamar Jackson, has been outspoken about his beliefs before. He once wore a “Know Jesus, Know Peace” shirt. There was a time he was deemed the “next Tim Tebow.” And he regularly shares about God on social media.

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