When Robert Griffin III watched Super Bowl LV, he felt inspired. Tom Brady won a Super Bowl at 43 years old. Griffin just turned 31 years old today.
The Ravens released Griffin last month in a procedural move because he finished the season on short-term injured reserve, but Griffin was slated to be an unrestricted free agent anyway.
After three seasons in Baltimore, Griffin is looking for the next chapter in his career, and for a player that's always looking at the positive, he's betting on himself. He sees a long career ahead, and he's still looking to be a starter.
"It continues to make you inspired when you see greatness," Griffin said of watching Brady. "I think my desire burns even hotter."
Griffin knows there isn't much of an opportunity to start in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson running the show, and his chance of being brought back as the backup appear slim too.
Griffin made one start this year, in Pittsburgh, when Jackson and many other key players had COVID-19. Just when he was getting his footing and the Ravens offense moving in the second half, Griffin suffered a hamstring injury that sent him to the sideline for the rest of the year.
Trace McSorley took over for the rest of that game, then he suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks later. That led to undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley backing up Jackson for the rest of the year, including the playoffs where he finished the divisional game in Buffalo for the concussed Jackson.
After releasing Griffin, General Manager Eric DeCosta said he was "impressed" by McSorley and Huntley and said both have a “legitimate chance” to compete for the backup job in 2021.
"They have two young guys there that they're excited about, giving them a chance to compete. I've worked with those guys, one for one year and one for the past two years, and I know how eager they are to get out there and play," Griffin said. "Ultimately, the NFL is a business, so they're the cheaper options and they have to pay a lot of guys there that have played at an extremely high level, starting with Lamar. They all deserve it. If they can get a good backup that's cheaper, I think that's what they want to do.
"You never know what the future may hold. If it's back in Baltimore, that's awesome. I learned how to play like a Raven, know what it means to be a Raven, and will always cherish my time with the Ravens."
The Ravens helped Griffin breathe new life into his career. The No. 2-overall pick in 2012, former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year was out of football for the entire 2017 season before Baltimore called.
Griffin was signed on April 4, 2018. Three weeks later, the Ravens drafted Jackson, which left Griffin battling to make the roster. He did, serving as the No. 3 quarterback, and then moved to Jackson's backup a year later when Flacco was released. It was a new role for Griffin, but one that he embraced.
"I was a starter in this league for a long time and then my time in Baltimore, I was a backup," Griffin said. "I want to get back to getting an opportunity to compete and play every week. But whatever opportunity there is for me to compete as a starter or go somewhere, to solidify a backup spot, or help a young guy – whatever it is, I just want to keep playing. I just love this game so much.
"I came to Baltimore and I feel like I accomplished everything that they brought me to Baltimore to do," Griffin said. "They asked me to help Lamar develop. Over the course of three years, I feel like I helped to accomplished that. They brought me in to compete, be active for the team and provide leadership. I feel like I did that. Then fill in when need be, and I feel like I did that as well."
Griffin's best game as a starter in Baltimore was the Week 17 finale in 2019, when he and other backups defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had a strong defense and all their starters playing. That win secured Baltimore's best regular-season record in franchise history and set the record for team rushing yards in a single season.
"I came in and did what I had to do to be a part of a team that won two division titles and went to the playoffs all three years. Did I throw any passes that led us to the playoffs? No. Did I score any touchdowns that led us to the playoffs? No. But I also didn't detract from what the team's main goal was, and that's winning at all costs," Griffin said.
"I just want an opportunity, just like other brothers get opportunities no matter what happens, no matter how many passes they throw. I feel like I can be a starter; it's just about getting that opportunity."
Griffin will always be a part of the beginning of Jackson's career. Now Griffin expects to watch Jackson develop his overall game even more, whether that be from afar or near.
"I think that's where Lamar can help himself is to make the game easier for him – to find those easy completions, find those easy plays, so he doesn't have to be Superman all the time," Griffin said. "Everyone in the league knows that when it's time to be Superman, he does it better than most.
"With what we've done together and what he's going to continue to do and get from coaches, his future is beyond bright."