In a blockbuster trade today, the Washington Redskins traded 3 first round draft picks and one second round pick to the St. Louis Rams for the 2012 second overall pick. The trade paves the way for Washington to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
A close college friend of mine used to say "You have to be willing to lose money to make money. You have to be willing to take risks if you want to have the chance at great success." He approached his professional career as a hedge fund analyst with this same approach and he took big risks, made huge money, and at age 27 semi-retired to a life of sailing around the world, becoming a licenced pilot, traveling and overall simply enjoying his life. Approximately seven years ago he took huge calculated risks based upon his research and analysis and against the common wisdom of the time he invested everything he had betting against the real estate boom and the associated financial lending institutions. When the global economy imploded, his 'risky' bets earned him enough money to never have to work another day in his life. This friend grew up on welfare and food stamps but because of his intelligence and willingness to research and analyze the economy and go with his instincts when most others did the opposite, he was able to retire before the age of thirty.
Similarly, the Redskins are taking a risk that many teams and owners would never consider. They are trading St. Louis their 2012, 2013 and 2014 first round picks as well as 2012 second round pick for a young man that has never played a single down of professional football. Griffin has surely proven himself on the collegiate level, earning nearly every imaginable award in 2011 and headlining every All American team. At the NFL combine he ran a 4.41 second laser-timed 40 yard dash, broad jumped ten feet, and had a vertical leap of 39 inches. He has been an exemplary individual on and off the field and is beloved at Baylor University for spearheading the resurrection of one of major college football's historically worst programs. He won the Heisman trophy and emphasized not his accomplishments, but those of his team. In his Heisman acceptance speech he reflected upon the arduous hard work of himself and his teammates when he said "You know, this moment right here, it's -- it's unbelievably believable. You know, it's unbelievable because in the moment, we're all amazed when great things happen. But it's believable because, you know, great things don't happen without hard work. You know, the great coach Art Briles always says great things only come with great effort, and we've certainly worked for this."
Robert Griffin III is arguably the most athletic quarterback to enter the NFL since Michael Vick, although Griffin's passing ability far exceeds Vick's when he was the first overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft. He has all the physical measurables and it appears that he also possesses all the "intangibles" that distinguish the average to good players from the great to all-time best players.
The Redskins have a checkered history of taking huge inadvisable risks in free agency and for paying princely sums for these dramatic failures. The "Washington Failures" of Albert Haynesworth, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Adam Archuleta and Jeff George are just a few of the team's horrid off-season free agent acquisitions. In the 1994 NFL Draft Washington selected Heath Shuler who was rated the fourth biggest draft bust in NFL history by ESPN after his three year career with the Redskins ended with only 18 career starts followed by one particularly awful season in New Orleans. Shuler's career QB Rating was 54.3 and in his four dreadful years as a professional he threw 15 touchdowns while being intercepted 33 times.
But, like my friend who took a big risk in the stock market that paid off, I applaud the Redskins for doing their due diligence, evaluating Griffin III, and being willing to throw it all on the table to acquire him. The Redskins' off-season failures of the past do not dictate the future, and for an organization that has been beset by taking reaches and signing players far past their prime (Sanders and Smith), overpaying individuals that either lacked the ability (Archuleta) or attitude (Haynesworth and George) to succeed, or drafting a great young man who simply was not skilled enough to play in the NFL (Shuler), making this trade with St. Louis to draft Robert Griffin III is a smart calculated decision by Daniel Snyder and the Redskins. Like my friend who invested wisely and was willing to risk it all on his analysis, the Redskins have studied this player and evaluated their needs and are taking a risk few other owners would contemplate in giving up three first round picks and a second rounder.
Robert Griffin III's career will either ultimately prove to be a shining moment in the history of the franchise, or it will simply be added to the long list of previous recent failures.
This time, however, it feels different. It seems like for the first time in years the Redskins have done their homework and instead of gambling on famous 'star' players like in years past, this time around it appears that they are investing in a player and a leader in Robert Griffin III that will be the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. The Redskins are paying a steep price for the right to draft Robert Griffin III, but if the Redskins executives are correct in their analysis they clearly believe that he can do for Washington what he did for Baylor and resurrect a team and fanbase that has long-suffered through the poor play of the team on the field as a result of countless bad decisions by team executives off the field. In this young man, Washington has been given a reason for hope. A reason to believe that things could possibly change.
Robert Griffin III's leadership in the resurrection of Baylor's football program was momentous and made him a hero to a small college in Texas. If Griffin resurrects the Redskins and brings them back to even shades of their former glory, he will be a god in the capital city of the United States of America. Welcome to Washington Robert Griffin III.