That’s a promise, or at least 95 percent of a promise. And in that distant season he will still be an excellent quarterback and still the key to the future.
This is a big detour, a waste in time and pain, a mishandling of a resource. But Griffin plays the one position in sports — quarterback in the NFL — where almost nobody with an accurate arm, a football brain and toughness ever disappears before he is in his 30s, and often mid-30s or later.
Injured? They almost all get injured. “Kill the quarterback” has been the central strategy of the NFL for generations. But they come back. Then some get hurt another time or two. But they seem to last forever. And, since the game “slows down” the longer you play it, the better most of them become.
The longevity of NFL quarterbacks is staggering, regardless of their size, playing style or injury history. Scrambling, agile quarterbacks such as John Elway, Steve Young, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton, Brett Favre, Joe Theismann and Randall Cunningham were still exceptional starters — running judiciously but still crushing foes — when they were 38, 37, 37, 38, 41, 38, 40, 36 and 35.
Once a quarterback has been identified as high quality, like RGIII, he has nine lives. Dan Marino, Kurt Warner, Dan Fouts, Donovan McNabb, John Unitas, Jim Kelly, John Hadl, Sonny Jurgensen and Terry Bradshaw were still their team’s starters when they were 38, 38, 36, 34, 37, 36, 35, 36 and 33. You think they didn’t get hurt? Most ended up covered with scars.
Troy Aikman, driven out of the game by concussions, was still the Cowboys’ starter at 34. The most famous “bad knees” quarterback ever, Joe Namath, was certainly inhibited by his limping legs. But he was still an effective starter at 31 and was still in the NFL at 34. Get a grip, folks.
Robert Griffin III is 22.
Just be patient, don’t rush him back. Will he be 100 percent himself again or only 90 or 95 percent? We can’t know. Will it be 2014 before he’s as rehabilitated as he’ll ever be? Maybe.
But the idea that Griffin’s career is in jeopardy is ridiculous. He had knee surgery, not a lobotomy. He’ll be fine. History says so.
You probably suspected, with a bit of pity, that I’d study the career of every quarterback in history to see what it said about RGIII. I looked up every quarterback of the Super Bowl era. My “filter” was just one first-rate season — a year, just one, when he ranked in the best 250 NFL seasons in any of three categories: touchdown passes, yards or quarterback rating.
How many of them had their careers “killed early” by injury — or by any other factor on earth?
Here’s the list of decent quarterbacks who, for any reason whatsoever, never started at least 10 games in a season after the age of 30: