From the second he joined the Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III shouldn’t have expected to find himself on Fran Tarkenton’s Christmas list.
One of the strangest feuds in recent sports history came between Griffin — Washington’s instant star quarterback — and Tarkenton, the Hall of Fame signal-caller.
Robert Griffin III was an instant star in Washington
For once, things were going well for the Washington Redskins in 2012.
It would be hard to blame Washington for celebrating quarterback Robert Griffin III’s arrival, the No. 2 overall pick and reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Griffin dazzled to start his career and turned in one of the league’s greatest rookie quarterback seasons, completing 65.6% of his passes for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just five interceptions in 15 games.
The explosive dual-threat quarterback picked up 815 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on a league-high 6.8 yards per carry.
Unfortunately for Griffin, he tore his ACL and LCL in a wild card loss to the Seahawks. Griffin previously battled a knee injury earlier in his rookie season.
Fran Tarkenton often called out RGIII and the Redskins
In true Washington Redskins fashion, the team destroyed their future with Robert Griffin III.
Despite previous comments by head coach Mike Shanahan, it was quickly revealed that Dr. James Andrews hadn’t cleared Griffin to return from his knee injury in a Dec. 9, 2012, game against the Ravens.
Fran Tarkenton, the legendary Vikings quarterback, joined others in publicly blasting Washington for how they handled the situation.
Then came a public feud between Griffin and Washington throughout the 2013 offseason; Griffin wanted to play in Week 1 against the Eagles, while Washington wanted him to take as long as he needed to recover.
Tarkenton predicted Robert Griffin III’s fall to obscurity
Football fans who watch Robert Griffin III, now with the Ravens, stand on the sidelines while Lamar Jackson carves up defenses aren’t alone in thinking what could have been.
Fran Tarkenton knew Griffin would eventually fall into obscurity, however. In a 2014 interview with The MMQB, Tarkenton blasted Griffin, the Redskins, and the team’s overall management.
Tarkenton didn’t hold back on Griffin, who by December 2014 — when The MMQB published the interview — had quickly fallen out of favor with the franchise.
“So RG3, at 21, 22, thought he was Jesus, right? And he was making pontifical statements about how he approached the game. I was listening to him the offseason after his rookie year, which was not a bad year, and I’m saying, ‘Holy s—, this guy is out of control with his ego.’”
Tarkenton said Griffin’s ego immediately showed his “lack of leadership.”
Tarkenton completed his evisceration of Griffin by explaining how the former Heisman Trophy winner didn’t understand what made a quarterback great.
“You know a quarterback’s job? Make his teammates better,” Tarkenton explained. “It’s not about you; it’s about your teammates. You’ve got to make them better, and if you don’t make them better, you have no chance.”
One could successfully argue that the Redskins ruined Robert Griffin III’s career. Like Tarkenton did in 2014, others might not be wrong in saying Griffin’s attitude — including his insistence on playing the 2013 opener — doomed him from the get-go.