It doesn’t matter how you got there as long as you are there, and for both Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers they’ve made it. Their paths to stardom however, drastically differ.
Unlike Griffin III’s rookie season in which his arm and legs captured the heart of a fanbase en route to 4,000 combined yards and an NFC East title, Rodgers had to sit for his first three seasons in the NFL, sprinkling in an occasional spot appearance here and there when the Packers were partaking in a squash match (and they were on both sides of the shellacking).
You know what was in front of Griffin III before he was drafted—a longer string of frustrating quarterback cameos than that that would make up the Incredible Hulk’s pants. After Mark Rypien’s departure following the 1993 season 18 different quarterbacks attempted to uphold the prestige of being the Redskins starting quarterback. 18 struggled under the pressure and succumbed.
During that same stretch, only Brett Favre, Rodgers and Matt Flynn (two starts) took the field as the starting quarterback for the Packers.
On Wednesday, Griffin III and Rodgers talked about their opposing paths to the NFL and the mutual respect they have for one another.
It wasn’t that long ago that the preferred trend for rookie quarterbacks was to sit them for a year or two so that they can fully acclimate themselves to the NFL before being thrown into the fire. Now of course, quarterbacks drafted early are expected to play—and win—right way.
“I kind of missed that wave, but it’s been fun to see the different levels all kind of doing more of the spread offense stuff, and as a quarterback that’s what you want, being able to throw it around,” Rodgers told the media. “I wasn’t in the shotgun until I was in junior college and then had about one snap at Cal in the shotgun so I think it’s an exciting brand of football and the defense and the offense are always at odds of who can get ahead and then who makes the adjustments. Defenses, I think in really the early 2000s, made a jump with the various zone-blitz packages you saw, and then the offense to react to some of that has gone to the spread and you’ve seen it at all the younger levels on up.”
Griffin III’s weekly press conference opened with a question about Rodgers’ response and the “generational shift”.
“I think his [situation] is different with Brett Favre there. I’m sure if he had to come in and play right away he would have played well, too. He’s a confident guy, so I’m sure he believes he would as well,” Griffin III said. “It’s just different situations. We were called upon to perform at a high level immediately and he didn’t have to because of who was on his team. It could be a generational thing, but I just think it was just his unique situation.”
Griffin III’s first game against the New Orleans Saints was one of the best debuts—well ever—but what if he entered the league in 2005 and was required to sit to start like Rodgers. What would have gone through the ultimate competitor’s head?
“I mean, that would be tough, you know. He handled himself well throughout that whole process.
“I appreciate the way he plays. I appreciate what he’s done for the game. You have to look back on the guys that were before you and appreciate what they’ve done. So I appreciate that. I appreciate the way he plays, the swagger he plays with, how he treats his teammates, all those different things. So you look up to those things. When you’re playing him, you’re on opposite sidelines. There is no looking up to that. You’ve just got to go play.”
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