Former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is speaking out about a serious knee injury that he believes changed the course of his NFL career.
Griffin was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and selected to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Washington Commanders in 2012 but injured his knee in Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens. He continued to play until the season was over and further damaged some ligaments in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
“I played with no ACL and no LCL,” he told the Sports Junkies podcast. “We all think that we’re Superman, we’re the toughest people in the world, that we can overcome anything. Your mindset is always, ‘I’m going to go out there and put everything on the line.'”
“People say, ‘It was tough, it was brave.’ Yeah, but it was stupid. And that’s just the bottom line. It altered my career.”
Griffin was never the same after his injury and never reclaimed his starting role. Washington fired its coaching staff after a disastrous 3-13 season in 2013, and Griffin fell out of favor with the new staff. He finished his career as a backup with the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.
His comments were made in support of his former teammate and current Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed the final six games of the season after suffering a knee injury on December 4 against the Denver Broncos.
The pair spent three years in the same quarterback room in Baltimore and have discussed the similarities in their playing styles.
“Me and Lamar had many conversations about that in my three years in Baltimore,” Griffin said. “I’m happy for him that he’s not making the same decision I did.”
“The whole point is what Lamar is going through right now, I lived through it already,” he continued. “I didn’t have anybody to tell me, ‘hey, this isn’t good, this isn’t the smart decision, this isn’t the right move.’ If I had that hindsight being 20/20, I would have never played the rest of that year, let alone in that playoff game.”
“The simple fact is he couldn’t go out there and be Lamar Jackson,” Griffin added. “When I played those last few games of the year in 2012 and in that playoff game, I wasn’t able to be my complete self. … At the end of the day, if you can’t go out there and be healthy, you shouldn’t be out there playing, especially at a position like quarterback.”
Some experts have called out Jackson for not playing at the end of the season and even speculated that his current contract situation is the real reason he has not been on the field after he did not even travel with his team for its playoff loss in Cincinnati on Sunday.
“It’s the playoffs man,” former quarterback Mike Vick said on Fox NFL Sunday Kickoff. “You’re three games away [from the Super Bowl]. Put a brace on it and let’s play.”
Some of Jackson’s teammates have joined Griffin in coming to his defense.
“Those injuries, I know how it goes,” defensive lineman Calais Campbell told the media as he cleaned out his locker after the season. “I’ve been injured plenty of times before. Some stuff you can play through, some stuff you can’t. It wasn’t for lack of effort, that’s for sure.”
“Lamar Jackson’s a guy who loves the game of football. I truly believe he worked as hard as he could to give himself a chance to play. As he gets older and more wise, he’ll learn how to take care of his body in different ways.”
Jackson just finished the fifth and final year of his rookie contract and will likely command a big contract this offseason as a former league MVP and a two-time pro bowler. Baltimore has been at an impasse with its quarterback over a potentially long-term contract since last offseason.