Long before Robert Griffin III even took his first snap with the Washington Redskins, comparisons to other notable Black quarterbacks in the NFL had already begun. From being the face of the Baylor University’s program to the shadows of Carolina Panthers star signal caller Cam Newton and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, Griffin’s transition into the NFL was already written. The only thing Griffin had to do was live up to the hype.
But Griffin did more than just live up to the hype as he recorded 362 total yards and two-touchdowns in his debut pro game on Sept. 9 in a surprising 40-32 road win over the New Orleans Saints. His performance was so stellar that some folks have begun to argue that RGIII may already be better than Cam or Vick. But is he truly the better Black quarterback of the bunch? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley face off.
Green: Neither Vick or Newton are as accurate as RGIII is already as a rookie right now. The thing that separates Griffin is that he still has all the athleticism that those two share, from the speed to the quickness to the agility but he combines laser surgery precision to go along with arm strength in the passing game. Newton and Vick can both fling it from anywhere on the field but their accuracy isn’t even close in comparison to Griffin’s. RGIII is like Aaron Rodgers with Vick speed. Dangerous!
Riley: Griffin throws an accurate ball but let’s not act like Newton and Vick can’t spin it either. Griffin is consistently more precise with a football and I can admit that but personally, no quarterback is as difficult to gameplan against as Newton. We can both agree that Vick is the most erratic out of the bunch but Newton completed 60 percent of his passes last season as a rookie which is extremely impressive for a newbie signal caller. And keep in mind Newton is playing with less talent in Carolina than Griffin is in D.C. Newton provides a physical intimidation that few if any quarterbacks can match in the league. Total that with agility, athleticism, arm strength and character and Newton is an obvious choice.
Green: Carolina still has quality players from veteran Pro Bowl wide-out Steve Smith to two Pro Bowl caliber running backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, along with solid pieces along the offensive line. Washington doesn’t even have a clear cut number one wide receiver at this point and a coin flip could easily pick the starting running back next weekend. The Redskins have a bit of work to do before turning this organization into a top-tier program but with the arrival of Griffin, the battle back to the top is halfway there.
Riley: You’re making it sound like Newton and Vick are chopped liver or something. Both of these guys have become instant franchise faces early into their careers. And say what you will about Newton, he’s already become legendary across the league.
Green: See, it’s about the whole package, Riley. Griffin’s style whether it’s him wearing his trademark “crazy looking” socks, or wearing the single arm sleeve, or even his long hair flowing out the back of his helmet, makes him the better image to sell to the public. I saw him throw a deep ball last week and started posing with his arm extended as if he was a sharp-shooting star in the NBA nailing a game-winning three-pointer. I’ve never seen anything like this in the NFL before. And even if you don’t think he’s the best Black quarterback, he’s still one of the most talked about and his image is light years cleaner than Vick’s or Newton’s. If Griffin isn’t the best quarterback then show me one better. He’s got all of the talent and all of the intangibles to take the image of Black quarterbacks to the next level. Pretty soon, he won’t just be the best Black quarterback; he could end up being the best of all races in the NFL, period.
Riley: I understand how great an image RGIII offers, but the same can be said about Cam. Cam’s image is pretty clean, too, and he has a signature smile that will make everyone in America fall in love with him. You talk about RGIII posing but Cam poses for the fans, too! You can catch him posing after every touchdown scored as he famously pretends to rip his suit off as if he’s Clark Kent transitioning into Super Man. Fans love that about him, but even more, fans love his skills and game. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, he has the size and strength to completely bully opposing defenders. He bullied defenders on the college level as he won a national championship in his final year at Auburn University, something RGIII didn’t accomplish. Cam and RGIII are going to be compared for years and years to come, and one day Griffin may actually be considered better. But for now, the edge goes to Cam.