Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was on top of the world. He was the hot rookie signal-caller in the District whose efforts revitalized a once proud franchise. He was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year for the 2012-2013 season. Griffin’s inaugural campaign in Washington could have marked the greatest impact a rookie has ever had on their team. The love for the Washington football team from their local fans is unconditional, and their response to Griffin’s 2012 season had him on cloud nine.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III throws during the Philadelphia Eagles 29-10 win over the Cleveland Browns at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III throws during the Philadelphia Eagles 29-10 win over the Cleveland Browns at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

And then he sprained his LCL before having surgery at the end of the season on his ACL and LCL.

And then it was over.

Griffin never found the same game from his rookie season and his tenure in Washington turned from lauded to laughable. When Griffin signed with Cleveland this summer, it was a good move. It gave him a fresh start on a team where expectations are non-existent but the fans’ passion still runs deep. The preseason was rocky, but RGIII connected on some big passing plays.

And before the first game was even finished, Griffin was done again.

Griffin fractured the coracoid bone in his right shoulder and was initially expected to return in the middle of the year. More recently, reports emerged that he might miss the rest of the season. Just like in Washington, another lost season.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III walks the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

There’s been plenty of snakebitten players in the NFL, but Griffin’s story is among the most sympathetic. There hasn’t been a fall from grace so fast and so hard in a long time. After his rookie year, Griffin could have retired from football, run for D.C. public office, and been a legitimate candidate. Through a string of bad-luck injuries, Griffin’s body has failed him every season that he’s been in the league. He’s been battered and benched and it might be time to bow out. Could anyone blame him? Griffin’s track star build hasn’t held up for the heavy lifting needed to last in the NFL.

Where Griffin goes from here is anybody’s guess. He could return or he could retire, the choice is his. He’ll always hold a moment in time for his phenomenal rookie season. It’s disappointing that Griffin couldn’t build on what at first seemed like a Hall of Fame career. The old RGIII still has a chance to return, but as the injuries pile up, it’s not likely.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO