Brees has kept tabs on the Redskins’ rookie for some time now and he sees similarities between himself and Griffin.
“Watching RGIII from a distance – he’s a fellow Texas kid, high school quarterback – I always kind of watch those guys and root for them,” Brees said in a conference call with Redskins beat reporters Wednesday. “It was exciting to watch last year, his Heisman run, and what he was able to do at Baylor. I would kind of compare it to a little bit of his situation maybe of when I was coming out of high school, going to college at Purdue. Baylor wasn’t a place that was the strongest in the Big 12 when he got there, just like Purdue wasn’t one of the strongest places in the Big 10 at the time.” Both quarterbacks turned their programs around.
“You root for those guys,” Brees continued. “It’s been exciting to watch him from afar and what he’s been able to accomplish.”
Brees met Griffin during Super Bowl week, when the Saints quarterback, Tim Tebow and New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham took on Griffin and fellow rookies Justin Blackmon and LaMichael James in the Madden Bowl. But he said their conversations consisted more of trash talk rather than business.
“You look at everything he’s been able to accomplish, he’s played a lot of big games, and played well in a lot of big games. So I don’t know if he needs any advice from me,” Brees said.
The San Diego Chargers drafted Brees 32nd overall in 2001, and after a year behind Doug Flutie, the Purdue product took over as starter. Griffin was, of course, taken 30 spots higher 11 drafts later, but Brees said that college quarterbacks of today are farther along in their development than they were when he entered the NFL.
“I think the amazing thing is when you look at football now, we have rookie quarterbacks starting the season in the NFL. That’s unheard of,” Brees said. “I remember when I was coming out of college in 2001. I think guys are so much further ahead now, whether it’s the style of offense they run in college, or the cross-over of so many college systems with pro systems or college systems with pro coaches. It seems like these guys are so prepared to become starters right away. It’s pretty remarkable. … I couldn’t imagine at the time being a starter going into that first game as a rookie. It seemed like such a whirlwind with everything you have to get adjusted to in the NFL: speed of the game, the system, all those things.”
Brees believes Griffin will experience success as a rookie, and he expects Griffin to have a similar impact on the professional game as he did in college.
“He’s a winner, and he’s a phenomenal athlete,” Brees said. “He can do things with his legs and his arm that most people can’t do. You figure it’s only a matter of time before he takes this league by storm. I just hope he doesn’t do it on Sunday.”