Whether Robert Griffin III or not, should an injury prevent a player from being labeled a bust?

Robert Griffin III isn't the first player to come up short because of injuries. Yet how we judge the injuries could alter the long-term perception on the RGIII era.

With the Robert Griffin III era in Washington firmly in our collective rear view mirrors, one major question remains. 

Was RGIII a draft bust?

Fans are very passionate about their opinion on this matter. Some contend Griffin should be remembered for delivering a division title in 2012 while others look at the self-destructive drama and scream BUST! Selecting a side isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. I admit I’m waffling on this subject more than a politician during an election year but when considering all the facts I keep coming back to one question that must be answered to make a determination. Should a drafted player be considered a bust if he is injured on the field? 

There is no question, most believed the Heisman Trophy winner was destined for a special career. When deciding bust or not, should we consider his performance before Haloti Ngata turned his ligaments into tartare or the three plus drama queen years that followed? Should a player’s legacy be labeled after a major on-field injury?

It seems harsh to call a player a bust when their skills were severely diminished after, literally, leaving it all on the field. There are players in Redskins history whose career were negatively affected after being hurt. Lavar Arrington and Kelvin Bryant are two that immediately come to mind. Arrington was coming off three consecutive 90+ tackle seasons when he hurt his knee in 2004. He was never the same.

Bryant was the MVP of the USFL in 1983 and won a league title in 1984. The Redskins selected Bryant in the 7th round in 1983 (Bobby Beathard was such a wizard his office should have been located in Hogwarts not Ashburn). Bryant showed flashes of becoming the heir apparent to John Riggins when he suffered a knee injury in 1988. That not only cut his season short, but was re-injured in a car accident that ended his entire 1989 season before it began. He retired in 1990. While debate rages about Arrington, I believe it would be hard to label either player a bust.

Two former Redskins, neither drafted by the team, that fit this category are Ki-Jana Carter and Adam Carriker, both high draft selections that careers were ended premature by injuries. 

Robert Griffin III was injured with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter trailing the Baltimore Ravens 28-20. It was 2nd and 19 and he scrambled for 13 yards before he was hit by Ngata. Yes, he should have slid instead of flailing his leg in the air like he was Draymond Green trying to kick Steven Adams in his koalas but nonetheless he was hurt trying to make a play.

While I am not a fan of Robert because of his hubris, I cannot go as far to label him a bust. I can only go by what I saw before the injury and to quote Larry Michael he was “electrifying.” 

Chuck Sapienza is the Executive Producer of the Naval Academy radio network and the former VP/Programming for ESPN980. He was also a part of the Washington Redskins Radio Network from 2009 to 2015, serving as the networks Executive Producer. He can be reached at SapienzaChuck@gmail.com

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