Tying a burgundy and gold bow to season that Redskins fans won’t soon forget, quarterback Robert Griffin III won the 2012 AP offensive rookie of the year award Saturday night at the NFL Honors annual awards show in New Orleans.
Griffin took the stage and accepted the award from New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.
“Well, it’s a truly a blessing to be up here and be able to stand, first and foremost,” he said. “I had a tough injury there at the end of the season. I thank our coaches, thank our players. I want to give a hand clap for Alfred Morris, who’s also up for this award. All the competition for this award was extremely good. … It seems like the league’s in good hands with the young quarterbacks.”
Griffin’s teammate, running back Alfred Morris was also up for offensive rookie of the year honors and in attendance Saturday night. The Redskins hadn’t boasted an offensive rookie of the year since running back Mike Thomas in 1975.
“Times have changed,” Griffin said before the night’s festivities. “It’s time for us to take that first place like we did this past year in the NFC East, and we’ve just got to keep building from there.”
“Underdogs in Washington like they have been for a long time, but now it’s time for us to be top dog, and it starts with myself and then Alfred and that whole offensive line and the coaching staff. We’re looking forward to putting this together for not just one year, but for many years.”
Griffin also said before the ceremony that his rehabilitation from knee surgery is already ahead of schedule, and he has “no doubt” that he’ll be ready to play the 2013 season.
“It’s just about being smart,” Griffin said. “I was ahead when I did [knee rehabilitation] in 2009. I’m a little bit ahead right now as well, as you guys can see. I just got to make sure I be smart about it and think long-term rather than short term.”
Griffin’s comments were his first in public since undergoing extensive surgery on his right knee on Jan. 9. He has been off crutches for nearly two weeks, he said, and walked down the red carpet with only the slightest hint of limp.
“It’s feeling good,” he said. “I went through the toughest part already, so it’s now it’s just about being smart, not pushing it too much. That’s what the doctors are there for, to keep me from doing too much.”
Griffin has already gone through knee rehabilitation once before. He missed most of his 2009 season at Baylor, recovering from surgery to the same knee. The familiarity with this process, he said, will be helpful as he spends the offseason recovering.
“It helps me a lot,” he said, “just because I can know what peaks and valleys there’s going to be, what milestones I need to hit and when I’m gonna hit them and just give me the confidence to know that I can come back better than I was before.”
The second overall pick in last April’s draft, Griffin completed 258 of 393 passes for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions while leading Washington to a 10-6 record and their first NFC East title since 1999. He also rushed for 815 yards (a league record for rookies) and seven touchdowns. Griffin was the first rookie quarterback since Dan Marino in 1983 to be originally selected to the Pro Bowl. Other rookie quarterbacks have appeared in the Pro Bowl after making the roster as alternates.