Three and a half months after being the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Robert Griffin III is opening eyes with an impressive training camp for the Redskins. But if he had decided to pick track over football, we might be talking about his hurdling exploits in London instead.
Griffin was the 2007 Gatorade Texas Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year as a junior at Copperas Cove High School. The future Heisman Trophy winner didn't compete as a senior because he graduated high school early in 2008 to attend football workouts at Baylor, where he also ran hurdles on the Bears track team.
After 2008, Griffin focused on football, but the times he had posted then -- good enough to be NCAA All-American -- suggest he would've had a good shot to be an Olympian this year.
When the U.S. Olympic Trials were underway in June, Griffin was paying attention.
"My dad was talking to me about it and he was saying that a lot of my peers, the guys that I beat growing up, are running at the trials," Griffin told NFL.com. "And ... it does suck. I mean, that's the only way to say it. It sucks. But I'm definitely fortunate to be in the situation that I am, being in the NFL, being a franchise quarterback for a team with the opportunity to go out and do an infinite amount of things."
But then he added: "If I wake up one day and it's 2016 and I say I want to go run the hurdles again, I can do that."
According to Baylor's website, Griffin's personal best in 110-meter hurdles was a time of 13.3, which would have put him on the team if he could have matched it at this year's trials.
And at the London Olympics, a 13.3 in the 110 hurdles would have given him the last qualification spot for the finals. In those finals, a 13.3 would have been good for fourth place.
In the 400 hurdles at Copperas Cove High, Griffin posted a 49.56, the second-fastest time in prep history. Then in 2008 -- when he would've been a high school senior if he hadn't graduated early -- he ran a 49.22, his career best, to win the 400 hurdles at the Big 12 outdoor championships. He also set the NCAA Midwest Region record in the event.
That 49.22 time would have made Griffin the 11th best qualifier in the round one of the London Olympics. It would have placed him 13th in the semifinals, just a few spots out of the finals.
Also consider that the times Griffin posted at Baylor were done with practically no collegiate training, and they were still good enough to get him invited to the 2008 Olympics trials. Had he stuck with track, he would have been part of the same Baylor track and field program that produced multi-gold medalists Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner.
Would Robert Griffin III, with four years of college training at a top track and field program, have made a push for a hurdles gold in London?
The world will never know, but evidence on hand makes a compelling case. And that is not to say we have seen the end of Griffin’s hurdling career. We may get to watch Griffin jump over diving tacklers for the next decade.
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