Of hype, Vick and Robert Griffin III
June, 11, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
I did not watch "The Sports Reporters" on Sunday morning, but one of my Twitter followers (@mcintosh37) referred me to Bill Rhoden's parting shot on Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Watch the video. Go ahead. I'll wait.
(Hey, about that Stony Brook baseball team, huh?)
All right. You back? So yeah, what DeAngelo Hall said about Griffin being ahead of where Michael Vick was at the same stage of his career is interesting, but it bears some examination. Hall did go to Virginia Tech, as Vick did, but his first year on the team was Vick's first year in the NFL. So they didn't play together in college, and by the time Hall was a Falcons rookie, Vick was in his fourth NFL season. So while I'm sure Hall was watching his fellow Hokie very closely, he wasn't on a practice field with him during his first (or second or third) NFL offseason, as he is with Griffin. Herewith, the grain of salt of which we like to remind readers of from time to time.
As for what Bill said, he's right. Griffin is coming into the NFL in the era of hype. Vick came in with plenty of hype, but it wasn't like it is today, with Twitter and the constant hum of ludicrously in-depth analysis and debate. And even as this is something that has propped up Griffin and made him a star before he's ever thrown an NFL pass, it's also something of a potential obstacle for him. Comparisons to players like Vick aren't easy things with which to contend.
Is it ridiculous to think Griffin could be a more polished passer at this point in his career than Vick was? Of course not. Vick was never an elite passer in Atlanta. He was a thrilling run-first quarterback in college, while Griffin was more of a pocket passer at Baylor, and it's entirely possible that Griffin will start his career as a better pocket passer than Vick was in 2001. Vick didn't have a 3,000-yard season until 2010 with the Eagles.
Does Griffin have as strong an arm as Vick has? No, but almost no one ever has. Is he as fast as Vick is? Griffin has intimated that he'd like to find out, but there'd be no shame in coming in second in a race like that. Will he work harder than Vick did as a young player? Perhaps. Vick himself has admitted that was a problem for him early in his career. Will he stay out of trouble off the field? Time will tell, but the young man doesn't strike you as one who's headed for trouble.
Griffin will be compared to a lot of players. And hopefully not just other black quarterbacks, either. (Seriously, if one more person asks me on Twitter whether he'll have the kind of year Cam Newton had last year...) And just like Bill Rhoden is, we're all curious to see whether he can live up to his comparisons and all of the hype that's following him into the league. That is part of the challenge today's highly touted athletes face: Trying to be as good as their hype. The way in which Griffin manages that part of his transition could have as much to do with his long-term success as anything else he does.