While Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III’s comments about the team drafting Lamar Jackson in the first round not being a shot at himself were what drew headlines—I’m guilty of this myself—what the veteran had to say about his relationship with the rookie quarterback was actually much more than that. In fact, he sounds as though he is embracing the opportunity to be a mentor.
For one thing, he told reporters that he wants to help Jackson by identifying the aspects in which he himself failed during his own career. He said that they have talked about them sharing a similar history, both in their lives and in their college careers, to get to where they are, and Griffin is hoping that he can help Jackson succeed where he failed.
“He’ll learn over time what he can and can’t do”, the veteran said. “My job is also to be able to help him with some of the things I struggled with early on, to get over that, and not make that mistake. That’s why I said he’s like a little brother. That’s my job. I take ownership of that, and I want him to be successful”.
Griffin won the Heisman Trophy during college and was the second-overall pick in a draft in which he would have gone first had Andrew Luck not come out at the same time. He was able to take his team to a rare playoff appearance, but was never the same after that year, dealing with a knee injury and never getting the same opportunity again.
A part of him probably understands that he might never have the chance to be a starter again. He’s hardly even played within the past three years. So if he can’t do that, he at least wants to help somebody else succeed through the wisdom he has gained with his lived experiences.
He also talked about the fact that both himself and Jackson are black, and historically that has meant something a bit different when talking about quarterbacks. “We’ve been judged differently over time in the NFL”, Griffin said.
He said that he told Jackson not to view that as a negative. “We’ve had to overcome our entire lives. Lamar has overcome a lot in his life and now he’s here. So let’s take that use it and grow from it”, he said. “’Hey, I might be a little different, but I’m also a little bit different’”, as in special, having unique traits.
The Ravens have already talked about trying to get him on the field early along with Joe Flacco, whom they still plan to have as their starter this season, but it wouldn’t be inconceivable that Jackson could end up starting at some point this season if things go well for him and poorly for Flacco. After all, they wouldn’t have drafted him in the first round without viewing him as their eventual starter.