theGrio’s 100: Robert Griffin III, soaring at quarterback in the nation’s capital

Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after the Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-18 at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after the Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-18 at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Who is Robert Griffin III?

The top-selling jersey in the NFL this season didn’t belong to veterans Tom Brady or Peyton Manning – the honor belonged to Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Known to fans as ‘RGIII,’ the 22-year-old first captured national attention and electrified football fans as a Heisman trophy winner at Baylor. The Redskins selected him with the second overall pick in the 2012 draft and Griffin’s accurate arm and versatile playing style didn’t disappoint.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

Thanks to Griffin, the Redskins went from worst in their division in 2011 (5-11) to first place and playoff bound in 2012 (10-6) . Griffin was elected team captain midway through the season – an incredibly rare feat for a rookie quarterback and a definitive sign Griffin had proven himself a worthy leader in a short amount of time.

This season, Griffin was named the NFL‘s Offensive Rookie of the Year, edging out fellow quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.

His bevy of endorsement deals (Subway, Gatorade, Adidas) keep him in the national spotlight. He is outgoing, candid and genuine with sports media – even when some analysts choose to mischaracterize his beliefs. Griffin setting a positive example for scores of young fans isn’t lost on him either:

“Because it gives them motivation, that ‘hey, you know, an African-American went out and played quarterback for my Washington Redskins,”  Griffin told DC sports reporter and host Chick Hernandez. “So I appreciate that; I don’t ever downplay anything like that.”

What’s next for RGIII?

Griffin didn’t end his rookie season the way he would have liked. He tore both his lateral collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament in a brutal playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Unfortunately, the next move for RGIII is “total reconstruction” surgery on his right knee.

Griffin will reportedly be ready for the start of the 2013 season. Expect his recovery to be dramatized much in the same way Bulls superstar Derrick Rose’s comeback from injury was hyped for Adidas. As RGIII goes, his team goes – so more playoff appearances and success in the national’s capital is sure to follow as long as he’s healthy. In a few years, Griffin’s name will be among the best in all professional sports – not just football.

Follow Robert Griffin III on Twitter @RGIII