Even before he was announced as a Heisman finalist last week and ESPN began spamming the airwaves with his highlights, anyone with as much as a passing interest in college football knew who Robert Griffin III was as a football player. He was RGIII, the high-flying quarterback who single-handedly lifted Baylor back into relevance in college football. They had seen the incredible runs of his freshman year, heard about the injury of his sophomore year, or had perhaps known that he helped end Baylor's bowl drought last year with probably the best single season in school history (to that point).
If they hadn't heard about any of that, they had, no doubt, seen something of this season, when he rewrote the history books at Baylor again beginning with a Friday night shellacking of the TCU defense, introduced himself to the Heisman stage (again) in dramatic fashion by downing OU for Baylor's first win ever in that series, and finished things off by dismantling a Texas defense that made it their primary mission to keep him from winning the Heisman. They watched his games and heard Joe Tessitore lose his mind repeatedly, saw the interview on College GameDay, read the stat lines, or watched his highlights on Sportscenter. Maybe they even read the countless articles about his incredible play or delved a little deeper and realized he was having one of the greatest statistical seasons ever. RGIII the player was no stranger to fans across our country. Baylor finished the season ranked #12 in the entire country and people knew it was primarily due to him.
Tonight, though, on a night when he was awarded with college football's highest honor for his on-the-field feats, Robert Griffin III the person took center stage. I knew going into tonight's ceremony that if he won, he would give one of the most memorable Heisman acceptance speeches of all time. That's just who he is and who Baylor fans know him to be: an intelligent, thoughtful, and profound man who plays football because he loves it but does not define himself as a football player. He did not disappoint, accepting his incredible honor with poise, grace, and a level of humility unseen in a world of athletics that exalts the individual at the expense of the collective. After all, what he received was an individual award.
He said the word "we" 10 times in an acceptance speech of less than 300 words. He said the word "I" five times. Once to thank God, once to talk to his Baylor Nation, once to thank his teammates, and once to thank everyone else in his life to whom he dedicated the award. The remaining time he talked about his socks.
Better writers than I have already spoken at length about who Robert Griffin is to Baylor and the Waco community and the type of effect he has had on the people around him. The article Prashanth linked from Grantland yesterdaydid a particularly good job. I'm not going to rehash those things again; it should be accepted that Robert Griffin the person is, if possible, even better than RGIII the quarterback.
I'm incredibly happy for Robert for winning the award, Coach Briles (who you could tell almost cried on that stage tonight), everyone at Baylor who worked so hard to get him there, and all of Baylor's fans who have waited for something like this to cheer about for so long. Tonight is the kind of night that can change everything for a program, a school, and a city. Baylor Nation smiles from ear to ear tonight and deserves the attention it is getting. But I am most happy that a nationwide audience of people got to see Robert Griffin out of shoulderpads and a Baylor jersey and get to know him a little better as the person that he is. I am most happy that they got to meet Robert Griffin the person. It is impossible not to love him.
Just in case people didn't see it, here is a transcript of Robert Griffin's speech tonight after being announced as the winner of this year's Heisman Trophy. I can't embed the video like those fancypantses over at SBNation's home page, so if you want to watch the video you can do so here.
Now that my socks are out there, I got nothing to lose, right? This moment right here, it's unbelievably believable. It's unbelievable because in the moment, we're all amazed when great things happen. It's believable because great things only happen with hard work. The great coach Art Briles always says great things only come with great effort, and we've certainly worked for this.
That's right, everybody associated with Baylor University has reason to celebrate tonight. To my teammates, I'd like to say thank you. As we say, the hotter the heat, the harder the steel. No pressure, no dominance. We compete, we win. We are Baylor. Baylor we are, Baylor we'll always be, but it's up to us to define what that means, and this Heisman Trophy is only the beginning of that process.
To Baylor nation, I say this is a forever kind of moment, and may we be blessed to have many more like it in the future. God has a plan, and it's our job to fulfill it, and in this moment we have.
To my dad and my mom, my fiancee, my sisters, my beautiful niece, to my family, to my friends, to my teammates, to coach Briles and the coaching staff, to the Baylor administration and Ken Starr, the city of Copperas Cove and the city of Waco, and all of Baylor nation I say thank you for all your loving support, through the tough times like knee surgeries and glorious moments like this one.
Thank you to the Heisman Trophy Trust and all the Heisman Trophy winners who've given me a chance to be a part of this family.
Last but not least, I want to thank God for giving me all these great people to be in my life. Thank you.