Off the field, it's has been a whirlwind year-and-a-half for Robert Griffin III, BA '10. Some of the things he's done were fairly common for a 23-year-old fresh out of school: he moved out of his college apartment, bought his first home, and married his college sweetheart, Rebecca Liddicoat, BS '10.
Other happenings were unique to RGIII: he signed endorsement deals with Adidas, Subway, Gatorade, Nissan, and USAA, to name a few, he rehabilitated from major knee surgery, received wedding gifts from complete strangers, graced the covers of GQ, Sports Illustrated (twice), ESPN The Magazine, and dozens of others, and was the subject of two biographies (Robert Griffin III: Athlete, Leader, Believer and RG3: The Promise) and an ESPN documentary (RGIII: The Will to Win).
A natural in front of the camera, Griffin holds a degree in political science and needs to finish his thesis to earn a master's in communications from Baylor. He probably is the most popular person in our nation's capital, and he is definitely one of the most popular athletes in the country. Griffin's #10 Redskins jersey set a single-season jersey sales record on NFLShop.com -- with three months to spare. Miraculously, he's turned lifelong Cowboys fans into Redskins supporters.
On the field, RG3 has racked up accomplishments nonstop. After giving the Baylor faithful the priceless memories of winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Bears to its first bowl victory in two decades and setting or tying 54 Baylor records, Griffin was selected No. 2 by the Washington Redskins in the NFL Draft and quickly became a team captain and the face of the franchise.
Griffin led the Redskins to their first division championship since 1999 and was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He became the first player ever to lead the NFL in both yards per pass and yards per rush, and he set NFL rookie records for passer rating, interception rate and rushing yards.
Griffin joined Randall Cunningham (1990) as the only players in NFL history with 3,000 passing yards and 800 rushing yards in a season. He was only the second rookie QB ever to be named to a Pro Bowl original roster (joining Dan Marino).
But more than individual accomplishments and professional successes, Griffin's influence and continued support of the university have introduced Baylor to new audiences across the nation. People know where Baylor is on the map, and many more of them now have a good idea of what our university stands for.
With 1 million Twitter and 455,000 Facebook followers, Griffin's voice has tremendous reach. But it is his allegiance to the university that has permanently endeared him to the Baylor family. Griffin has continued to support his alma mater, friends and teammates from here -- from attending Baylor sporting events and bringing his Redskins teammates back to Baylor campus, to vigorously supporting Baylor on Twitter. His mother, Jackie, has been on a speaking tour, raising money for Baylor's Robert Griffin III Quarterback Scholarship by discussing how she and her husband, Robert Jr., raised their son.
Nationally, Griffin's star has risen at the same time as Baylor's. Certainly many other factors are in play, and thousands have contributed to Baylor's unprecedented level of public recognition; however, it is easy to argue that Robert Griffin III has done as much or more for the Baylor brand nationally than anyone else ever has -- and more than anyone could have imagined when he arrived on campus in January 2008.
Combining his individual excellence with his team success, along with being an exceptional student-athlete and an alumnus who continues to represent Baylor's mission so well, Robert Griffin III has earned yet another rare honor -- The Baylor Distinguished Achievement Medal.
Nobody knows what the future holds for Griffin. What is known is that he has given people across the country true inspiration -- reasons to believe that young athletes can be role models, reasons to believe in Baylor, reasons to believe in something bigger than themselves. Whatever his future holds, as each of Griffin's days in the spotlight passes, the Baylor family can be confident that he will continue to represent us well.
That's a huge burden to carry, but Baylor's faithful have learned to never say never when it comes to Robert Griffin III. He has proven to be ready for whatever comes next.