Grantland writer Michael Weireb traveled to Waco in October to have a long visit with Robert Griffin III and other Baylor students in an attempt to get a feel for what Robert Griffin III is really like. Some of the parts are tough critiques on Baylor, but are honest and issues that we've all noticed. But these critiques set the stage for Robert Griffin III to show what an interesting person he is and dynamic leader he has the potential to be; it goes beyond the statistically absurd season and legendary performances and even beyond the usually very well-done interviews that Robert Griffin III normally gives. Some excerpts after the jump...
...there was a national outcry: How could Baylor not know its place in the college football world?
This is why Saturday's announcement means far more to Baylor than it does to Alabama or Stanford or LSU or Wisconsin. There are five Heisman finalists,and all have legitimate cases, but only one has the potential to redefine both a university and the city that surrounds it.
There are certain things about Waco that students of Baylor quickly come to understand: The first is that Dr Pepper is to Waco as Coca-Cola is to the remainder of America. The second is that no one really ventures very far from campus, a phenomenon so prevalent that it's earned a name: The Baylor Bubble.
I think that anybody who's spent even a short amount of time at Baylor is familiar with the concept, if not the name. While there were some outreach type events when I attended Baylor, and apparently there are more now, the disconnect between Baylor University and the city it resides in is unlike most college towns.
"I don't want to say the wrong thing, but the first thing I heard when I got here is that there's this Baylor Bubble," Griffin tells me. "There's Baylor, and there's everybody else. I've written many papers on it, about Baylor just having to take the initiative and realizing that Waco is its city... It's getting a lot better. There are more powerful people and people a lot smarter than I am who are dealing with it every day. Still, I've done a lot of volunteering, and it's really sad, and you can only do so much."
It's interesting to me that out of any of the noble causes that Robert Griffin III could have decided to pick up, that this difficult and uncomfortable cause is one of his choices. I think we all agree that no one person can 'fix' the issue, but I'm impressed with Griffin for bringing attention to it.
And then there's this take on a Kendall Wright quote that seems to be the best 2-sentence summary of Robert that I've seen without actually attempting to do so.
But there is something truly abnormal about Griffin; he is that rare elite athlete who seems to consider his professional sports career to be a secondary pursuit. "It's like he's been doing this a long time," Wright, his best receiver, told me, and I'm not sure if he was talking entirely about football.
And then this very interesting take on if and how race factors into how players get picked for certain positions at the collegiate level:
"Because I was a sprinter in track, that was the biggest thing. When you have an African-American quarterback who's extremely athletic, a lot of times those coaches think, 'Well, I can go get a less athletic quarterback who might not be as explosive but can still throw the ball a little bit, and move this guy to receiver because he's got world-class speed. It's not, 'We're gonna move you to a different position because you're African-American.' It's, 'You're probably the best athlete on your team, so we need athletes at different positions.'"
I encourage everybody to go read the whole thing. It's long, but completely worth it. Also, you get to find out what Robert Griffin III plans for running for political office are!