Robert Griffin III has been synonymous with Copperas Cove High School, Baylor University and the Heisman Trophy during his meteoric rise as a football player.
He's now synonymous with the Washington Redskins. RG3 is the present and future for a franchise that completed one of the most stunning regular season comebacks in NFL history, and his value to his team surpasses that of other second-year signal-callers to their respective clubs.
As such, there's no rush to return from an ACL injury that sidelined the star QB in his team's first-round loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 NFL playoffs.
Let me reiterate—don't rush this, RG3.
Your future is too important.
After throwing for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions during his rookie season (in which he compiled a passer rating of 102.5), Griffin proved well worthy of trading the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
He turned a 3-6 club into a 10-6 one and helped the Redskins make the playoffs by way of an NFC East championship. That run included two wins over Dallas and one over the New York Giants and made the Redskins as one of the dark-horse favorites to reach Super Bowl XLVII.
During the playoffs, disaster struck.
RG3 had several injury scares during the regular season (a concussion scare against Atlanta and a leg whip against Baltimore) and had another during the first half against Seattle. He would return for the second half, only to tear an ACL in the process.
While the surgery went smoothly and Griffin is reportedly well ahead of schedule (via USA Today), according to Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, the latest attempt at capitalizing on Griffin's current popularity has ruffled the feathers of those looking out for his best interests.
Adidas released a video in February that suggested that RG3 would be ready to play Week 1 of the 2013 regular season. The ad featured Griffin working hard in his rehab and claimed that the star QB is "all in" for start of the new season.
It has sparked a national debate about player safety, specifically about what time is the right time for an RG3 return.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that RG3's friends and close confidants were worried that the Redskins would force Griffin into action too soon, risking further injury to a knee that has already been operated on twice in the past four years.
Apparently the fans were upset about Washington's role in his injury, too, and didn't take kindly to the Adidas ad. The outpouring from fans who wanted Griffin to wait until he was 110 percent was so overwhelming that RG3 felt the need to clarifying the ad on Twitter:
Robert Griffin III @RGIII
Starting Week 1 will be the result of healing, hard work, dedication & God's anointing. No rush, just determination2013-2-19 16:50:51
Couldn't have said it any better myself.
After that statement, the only thing left for RG3 is to follow his own words. As tempting as it probably is to expedite the rehab process and get back on the field, there is no need to rush. After all, not every athlete has the physical prowess that Adrian Peterson displayed en route to a 2,000-yard season and MVP honors less than a year removed from the same procedure.
A.D.'s performance has set an unfair bar for what Griffin is expected to accomplish in roughly the same amount of recovery time. However, the Redskins have more capable hands at the QB position than the Minnesota Vikings had at running back when Peterson went down.
Kirk Cousins performed quite well during his rookie season. Some gawked (this writer included) at Washington's choice to take him in the draft after taking a QB with essentially four draft picks (the four sent to St. Louis in the trade to acquire the No. 2 overall pick) on RG3—who plays the same position.
However, Cousins was big in the win over Baltimore and also filled in admirably following Griffin's ACL tear, although he was unable to spark a comeback over Seattle.
Cousins can handle the load with another full year of workouts and training camp, and his place on the roster will help the Redskins stay afloat while Griffin recovers fully.
The prevailing theory from fans and people with Griffin's best interests at heart are simple—don't let the young man come back until he passes every form of testing there is to ensure he's at full strength for his return.
With two knee surgeries already under his belt and RG3's fearless style of play a threat to his NFL longevity, there's no need to rush any kind of return to the field.
In terms of RG3's long-term future, Washington needs to do everything to avoid another Griffin injury. In today's age of advanced medicine and Griffin's role as the savior of the Redskins, there's really only one speed when it comes to his return.
That would be slow and steady.