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Robert Griffin III joins ESPN as football analyst, still hopes to continue NFL career

A former star at Baylor, Robert Griffin III has played in the NFL for Washington, Cleveland and Baltimore. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

RGIII is ready for his second act in football. Unless an NFL team wants to help him continue the first act.

ESPN announced Thursday that it has hired Robert Griffin III as a college football and NFL analyst. The former Heisman Trophy winner at Baylor, who started an NFL game as recently as last season, is set to call a weekly college game for ABC/ESPN and provide commentary on other events.

“College football has always been an integral part of my life, first as a kid watching it, then as a young man playing it,” Griffin said in a statement. “Some of my greatest sports memories come from my collegiate days surrounded by the pageantry, the traditions and the passion of the fans. College football is life changing for many and I will always look back on my time playing it with tremendous gratitude.

“Knowing how much the game of football helps shape lives, and understanding the aspects of the commitment it entails,” the 31-year-old continued, “is why I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join ESPN for both college and NFL programming. I look forward to being around the players, coaches and fans while providing unique insight to bring the game to life for the viewers.”

Griffin would still like to continue his NFL career and has an out clause in his ESPN contract that could allow him to do so should a team express interest, NFL Network reported. The quarterback shared on Thursday a Twitter post from veteran NFL reporter Gary Myers, who wrote of Griffin, “I know how much the fire burns inside him to still play and he is good enough to deserve that chance.”

Griffin has been trying his hand at the analyst role, including in 2017 for ESPN’s “NFL Live,” and in April he drew notice for appearing to criticize former Washington teammate Kirk Cousins while commenting on the NFL draft for Bleacher Report.

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The New York Post reported in June that Griffin was so impressive in tryouts for ESPN and Fox Sports that the networks began competing to land him.

“Robert has been on our radar for a while and we expect him to make an immediate impact on our college and NFL coverage,” ESPN senior vice president of production Lee Fitting said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game, his fresh-off-the-field insights and his charisma make him uniquely positioned to move into this new role, and we are particularly excited to have him call a big college game every week.”

Griffin became one of the most decorated players in recent college football history over four years at Baylor that also included success as a track athlete. Drafted second overall in 2012 by Washington, his NFL career got off to an extremely promising start, including Pro Bowl and AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors for his debut season.

Griffin injured his knee late in that season and then suffered a worse injury to the joint during a playoff game. He never regained the sustained effectiveness he showed in his first year with Washington, and after more injuries over the following three seasons, he was released in 2016 and signed with Cleveland. The Browns let him go after one season and he spent 2017 out of the NFL before latching on with the Baltimore Ravens. As a backup to 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, Griffin made one start in each of the past two seasons, accumulating modest numbers.

On Thursday, Griffin shared messages of congratulations from current and former NFL players, as well as from figures associated with Baylor sports, including national championship-winning men’s basketball coach Scott Drew.

“I think it’s a fun thing for me to be able to do a little bit of studio and call games. It’s a perfect situation,” Griffin told the Associated Press. “I am continuing to work out, stay ready and prepare for everything that could be coming in the future.”

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