Let’s play a game of quarterback A vs quarterback B. In this comparison, we will be comparing their statistics in their rookie seasons. In his rookie season, QB A passed for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions. His QB rating was 102.4, and he also rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns.
In his rookie season, QB B threw for 3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. His QB rating was 100.0, and he rushed for 489 yards and four touchdowns.
By all comparisons, these two players began their careers with very similar statistics. Both were effective passers in their rookie campaign and both were also dangerous on the ground. As rookie seasons go, this is ideally what teams want to see as both players contributed immediately while showing immense potential for the future.
Now, what if I told you both QBs were taken in the same draft? Most would assume that these two QBs both had to be early first round picks. In actuality, QB A was the 2nd pick and QB B was the 75th. QB A was a Heisman Trophy winner with ideal size and off the chart measurables. QB B was an undersized senior transfer who many had written off as a career backup.
Do you know yet who I’m comparing? For the few of you who may not know, here’s my last hint. In his first four seasons, QB B has made the playoffs in all of them, been to two Super Bowls and won one. He is also a three-time Pro Bowler. In four seasons, QB A has yet to win a playoff game, has only made one Pro Bowl (in his rookie season) and was just cut by his team.
Know now? QB A is former Redskins QB, Robert Griffin III. QB B is Seahawks QB, Russell Wilson. It seemed like (during their rookie season) their two careers would follow the same trajectory, but everything changed after 2012. To be exact, everything changed after the two QBs faced off in the 2012 NFC Wild Card game.
In what could be compared to a movie-like plot, Griffin would seriously injure his knee in the Wild Card game and has since been unable to recover his former self. Wilson, on the other hand, has blossomed into one of the best QBs in the game since the Wild Card game. The mighty Heisman winner, who had achieved success with ease, is now in the shadow of the gritty overachiever.
In this movie plot some might see the story as David vs. Goliath.
Everyone loves an underdog story and Wilson represents the perfect David. Wilson has surpassed every expectation and silenced all doubters while completely eclipsing the giant that was Griffin. According to this plot, the story is officially over and David has officially won.
While this kind of ending might satisfy many viewers, I see a potentially more powerful ending. Redemption.
Seeing an athlete fall from grace and recover to regain success is a story that we all take to heart. It’s a story that we experience every time we fail in our personal lives and in our careers, and have to go pick up the pieces to fight again. There’s a real emotional bond to a good redemption story for both those involved and those viewing it.
Griffin has the perfect opportunity to write the ending to this redemption story. What Griffin has to figure out now is how to overcome adversity with confidence. The root of all of his problems began with his knee injury. While he made a remarkable recovery from the injury, his play has yet to recover. He plays with hesitation and seems worried about getting hurt or making a mistake rather than making plays.
Griffin needs to completely forget the misfortunes of his past. What’s done is done. There is no changing the past. What can be changed is the approach he takes at his next opportunity. Griffin is well aware of what it feels like to achieve success at the highest level of play in the NFL. He needs to remember that mindset he had in his rookie season and let it take him back to a place of confidence.
What Griffin is currently experiencing is his Wilson moment. Everyone doubts him. Few believe he can carve out a successful career in the NFL–this needs this to be his motivation. Expectations can only be defined by the individual, not by others.
Griffin should set his expectations high. He knows he can achieve success. Knowing this is half the battle, and the other half is hard work and execution. Results will not come as easily in his next opportunity. Like Wilson, every day he will have to prove his case. However, that chip on his shoulder has the ability to take Griffin from irrelevant to great.
In a plot twist where Wilson now has it all and Griffin has nothing, Griffin has a chance to embrace his current situation as the underdog and orchestrate the ultimate NFL redemption story. Will this be the end to a David vs. Goliath story or will Goliath rise from the ashes to fight again? As lead writer, only Griffin can construct this stories ending.