The NFL has produced many great quarterbacks, but they usually arrive at their own pace and not in droves.
Only a few classes of NFL quarterbacks come to mind when considering clusters of greats, such as the one in 1983 that brought us Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly — all of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Fast forward to another one more recent in memory — the class of 2004 features Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, who both have two rings a piece, and a Super Bowl-less but still-talented Philip Rivers.
Out of all these outstanding quarterbacks, only one started the first game of the NFL season as a rookie: Elway.
However, the current unforgiving state of the NFL doesn’t allow for long-term development of quarterbacks, especially when the fan bases have short-term memories. Exhibit A: last year’s jaw-dropping performance by Cam Newton, when he practically rewrote the entire rookie record book.
With that in mind, coaches are clamoring to get the ball rolling with their own superstar hopefuls. Enter the class of 2012 which has already set a record, albeit not for performance. Instead, it is in the record book for sending the most rookie quarterbacks (5) into the lions den in week one.
Never before have five rookie quarterbacks been named to start the season openers and in case you’ve missed it, here they are: Andrew Luck of the Colts, Robert Griffin III of the Redskins, Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins, Brandon Weeden of the Browns, and most recently, Russell Wilson of the Seahawks.
Strangely enough, one seems to have had a meteoric rise to the top, shining above all the other rookie quarterbacks before he’s even taken a regular-season NFL snap. That man is none other than Griffin III, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor University, who was picked second overall in the 2012 draft by the Redskins.
It’s almost as if it happened overnight — the media was all over Andrew Luck and how he was the second coming of Peyton Manning, the savior of the Colts (which surely he still is), but all of the sudden Luck seemed to step down and lower his visibility as Griffin III stepped up — more like rocketed up — saturating the media.
It didn’t matter that Luck went before Griffin III in the draft or got the bigger contract — RGIII has been embraced by a fan-base starved for a hero and a massive media market that appreciates not only his talent, but his giant smile and even bigger personality.
And who could forget those crazy socks? Griffin III has raked in more endorsement money than other NFL rookie player in history before ever throwing a regular-season NFL pass.
With great endorsement money comes great responsibility, especially when Griffin III, too, is being hailed as the savior of a storied franchise in one of the largest media markets in the United States.
Never before has a player been placed on such a high pedestal before delivering any goods. That being said, RGIII has earned himself some lofty expectations this season and thus far he hasn’t disappointed — he’s at least par for the course.
In three preseason games, Griffin III has completed 20 of 31 passes for 193 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a completion percentage of 64.5 and a passer rating of 103.3. In a much hyped preseason game this past Saturday, Luck and RGIII faced off in a battle that featured No. 1 vs. No. 2, as the quarterbacks will be forever linked by their draft day numbers, each being measured against the other for the rest of their NFL careers.