Robert Griffin III: More Than Just an Amazing Quarterback

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Robert Griffin III:  More Than Just an Amazing Quarterback
Image via John McDonnell/The Washington Post

Who is Robert Griffin III? All football fans should know he's an athletic and dynamic quarterback for the Washington Redskins, but what about the person? 

I ask because ESPN commentator Rob Parker clearly doesn't know, with his absurd comments regarding Griffin's racial identity.  Now suspended for his callous remarks, Parker said on ESPN's First Take:

"Is he a brother or a cornball brother? We all know he has a white fiancée.  There was all this talk about he's a Republican, which, there's no information [about that] at all.  I'm just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue.  Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like, I've got black skin, but don't call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on."

If that isn't reckless talk for a pro sports commentator on ESPN, then I don't know what is.  So let's educate Parker and anyone else that doesn't understand who Griffin is.  Back in February of this year, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh admitted to Sports Illustrated that he recruited Griffin to play football for Stanford University when he coached in the collegiate ranks. 

I know a lot about Robert... Robert was a 4.0 student, great parents, came from a great home, and he's had great success at Baylor. Past performance usually indicates future success and he's had nothing but a history of success. So you would predict great achievements in the future. I was really fond of Robert through the recruiting process and he made that decision. He makes good decisions, he makes cool decisions. He's very conscientious in everything he does, and I respected his decision and wished him well.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Robert Griffin III and his mother

 

But what about Griffin's teammates? Veteran wide-receiver Santa Moss recently said that Griffin leads them every week with the way he plays.  So we know that Griffin had a good upbringing, was a smart student, is a solid leader, and is a good decision-maker. Of course, none of this has anything to do with his race.  It has to do with who he is as a person and the choices he makes in life.  Last year, Sports Illustrated ran a story on Griffin, saying:

Griffin, now studying for his master's in communications, dreams of law school, volunteers with five charities and says he doesn't "drink or smoke or any of that stuff."  The 6'2", 220-pound quarterback's idea of recreation is lugging a mammoth tire around his apartment complex. Last October the former choirboy (literally) even found time to get engaged to his girlfriend, Baylor grad Rebecca Liddicoat, belting out an original ballad in a meticulously planned surprise ceremony.

Sounds like Griffin is a clean, ambitious, talented and helpful guy, but what should we make of Parker's criticism of Griffin being engaged to a white woman? According to Griffin's mother, it's a non-issue

“She doesn’t see him as African American; she sees him as a man,” says Griffin’s mom. “He doesn’t see her as a Caucasian woman; he sees her as a woman.”

Clearly, Griffin's mother understands who her son is in a way that Parker doesn't.  Even Jim Harbaugh, who only knew Griffin through the college recruiting process came away with a more profound understanding of him than Parker. 

As Griffin said in a recent post-practice news conference, "You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That's what I've tried to go out and do."

That's a message that should resonate with anyone regardless of race. 

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