It wasn't that long ago when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III intended to dominate the NFL. It might seem crazy now, but it wasn't that long ago.
In 2012, Indianapolis drafted Luck first overall to take over for the then-injured Peyton Manning. It was a tall order, but Luck seemed up to the challenge. Immediately after Luck, the Redskins selected Griffin. His challenge wasn't replacing a legend like Manning, but rather Washington asked RG3 to rescue a franchise stuck in a constant vortex of turmoil. Somehow, even as a rookie, Griffin seemed up for that challenge too.
Both rookies started right away, and while there were some hiccups, both were great.
- In 16 games, Luck completed 54 percent of his passes for 4,300 yards with 23 TDs and 18 INTs while the Colts went 11-5 and returned to the playoffs.
- In 15 games, Griffin completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards with 20 TDs and 5 INTs while the Redskins went 10-6 and returned to the playoffs. Griffin also rushed for another 800 yards and seven TDs.
The hype was so real around both young quarterbacks that a preseason matchup between the Colts and Redskins got promoted as a showdown. A preseason game.
The truth was both Luck and RG3 seemed like can't-miss prospects. Cannot miss. Luck had the pocket pedigree every QB coach dreams of. Griffin had the arm and athleticism that was going to turn the NFL upside down.
For a brief time, it worked.
There were no Super Bowls, no real triumphs, but in 2012, both guys lived up the hype.
Things quickly deteriorated for Griffin, both through injury and infighting. Who's to blame in the demise of the RG3/Mike/Kyle Shanahan relationship doesn't really matter now. That short glimpse of the perfect player in the perfect offense fell apart, like looking at a solar eclipse for just one second too long; it's beautiful right until it burns your eyes.
Luck lasted longer in Indy, until he was betrayed by a terrible front office that refused to invest in capable offensive linemen. His body got beaten up, battered, and eventually he lost his love for the game as he was forced into a repeated cycle of rehab and recovery with only snippets of football in between.
Luck retired Saturday night. It was shocking, yet given the full context, understandable.
Griffin is now the backup quarterback in Baltimore, playing behind a young athlete with a gifted arm that might change the QB position forever in Lamar Jackson.
Long gone are the days of stadiums chanting RG3. And now, long gone are the days of Luck being the next great pocket passer.
That doesn't mean it never happened, but in the NFL as in life, there is no such thing as a sure thing.
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