Griffin attended Copperas Cove High School, where he was a three-sport star in basketball, football, and track for the Bulldawgs. He started at quarterback for two seasons. During his junior season, he passed for 2,001 yards and 25 touchdowns with 2 interceptions, while compiling 876 rushing yards for 8 touchdowns. He received first-team All-District 16-4A honors after the season. As a senior he recorded 1,285 rushing yards, posting 24 touchdowns, and passed for 1,356 yards for 16 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. In his senior season Copperas Cove finished with a record of 13–2, but lost in the championship game of the 2007 Class 4A Division I state playoffs. Over the two seasons, he rushed for a total of 2,161 yards and 32 touchdowns while passing for 3,357 yards and 41 touchdowns with 9 interceptions.
In track, Griffin broke state records for the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. He ran the 110-meter hurdles in 13.55 seconds and the 300-meter hurdles in 35.33 seconds. The 300 hurdles time was 1/100th of a second short of tying the national high school record at the time. He was also a gold medalist in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles on the AAU track and field circuit. In 2007, as a junior, he was rated the No. 1 high school 400-meter intermediate hurdler in the country, and was tied at No. 1 for the 110-meter sprint hurdler in the nation. His personal best in the 110-meter hurdles, 13.46 sec, ranked fifth in the world among junior athletes (behind Noga, Brathwaite, Dutch, and Zhukov), while his best 2007 time in the 400-meter hurdles, 49.56 sec—his personal best until 2008—led all juniors worldwide for that year. Also as a junior, Griffin received the Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award, and was named to USA Today′s 2007 All-USA Track and Field team. His personal best in the 400-meter hurdles was achieved on May 18, 2008, with a time of 49.22 seconds.
Griffin graduated from high school a semester early, after serving as class president and ranking seventh in his class. He began attending Baylor University during the spring 2008 semester when he was 17 years old. As a member of Baylor's track and field team, Griffin finished in first place in the 400-meter hurdles at both the Big 12 Conference Championship and the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship meets; he also broke the NCAA Midwest Regional 400-meter hurdles record. He placed third in the NCAA meet and also participated in the U.S. Olympic Trials, in which he advanced to the semifinals. Griffin graduated in three years with a bachelor's degree in political science and a 3.67 GPA, while appearing on the dean's list twice. During his final year of college sports eligibility, he was studying for a master's degree in communications.
As a true freshman playing for the Bears, Griffin earned Big 12 Conference Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. Griffin started 11 of 12 games his freshman season. In the upset 41–21 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies, he recorded 13 of 23 passes for 241 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, and no sacks. Griffin garnered Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors from the league's coaches (who are not allowed to vote for their own players) as well as the media.
The team finished the season with a 4–8 record (2–6 Big 12).
Griffin sat out for the remainder of the 2009 season after sustaining an isolated tear to his ACL in the first half of the third game, his third start of his sophomore year. The Bears picked up a 68-13 victory over Northwestern State.
Griffin was granted redshirt status so he entered the 2010 season as a redshirt sophomore. According to the bylaws, players who are injured after playing less than 30 percent of the season may be eligible (Griffin was injured during game 3 of 12 of the 2009 season, with 25 percent of the season completed).
Coming into the 2011 season, the Baylor Bears were not expected to do well, being picked 6th in the Big 12 preseason poll. The Bears opened the season against 15th-ranked TCU. The Bears took a 47-23 lead into the 4th quarter, and were able to fight off a comeback after the Horned Frogs gained the lead 48-47 briefly, only for Baylor to kick the game winning field goal and win 50-48. They pulled off the upset in large part due to Griffin's performance; he passed for 359 yards, with 5 touchdowns and a 77.8% completion percentage. On the game-winning drive, Griffin also caught a key pass. Following the win, Baylor entered the AP Poll rankings for only the third time in the previous 15 seasons, at 20th, and Griffin was considered by many to be a Heisman Trophy candidate. After a bye week Baylor shut out Stephen F. Austin State University 48-0, and Griffin went 20 of 22 (90.9%) for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for 78 yards. In week 4, Griffin ushered Baylor to their third win, beating Rice University 56-31; Griffin completed 29 of 33 passes (87.9%) for 338 yards with 51 yards rushing and a touchdown. In week five against Kansas State, Griffin almost brought the Bears to their fourth win, going 23 out of 31 (74.2%) for 346 yards and 5 touchdowns with only 1 interception, but they lost 36-35 to the Wildcats. In week six against Iowa State, Griffin took Baylor to Iowa for their fourth win, completing 22 out of 30 (73.3%) for 212 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions. He won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first player from Baylor to win it. Griffin also led Baylor to a 10-3 record, including a 67-56 win over the Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl. With a combined 123 points, it stands as the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in NCAA history. Due to the Alamo Bowl, Griffin became the first player since Tim Tebow in 2007 to win the Heisman and not appear in the National Championship (#1 LSU faced #2 Alabama).
Griffin, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a 3.67 grade point average in December 2010, began pursuing a Master's in communications in 2011. On January 11, 2012, Griffin officially announced his intention to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
2010 Semifinalist for Walter Campbell Player of the Year
2010 Baylor's Kyle Woods Inspirational Leader
2008 Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year (as selected by the league's coaches and the media)
2008 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week (received honor for the week of September 7–14, 2008; Griffin led the Bears to a 45–17 victory over Washington State on September 12, breaking various school records in the process)
Griffin was not perceived as a first-round draft pick prior to his junior season. By midseason, however, he had drawn the attention of NFL scouts and analysts, and some started projecting he would be an early first round selection. Towards the end of his junior season, Griffin had established himself as the No. 2 quarterback prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft, behind the unanimous first pick projection Andrew Luck.
Griffin was widely projected to be the No. 2 pick of the draft, but the St. Louis Rams—the team originally holding the pick—had already selected Sam Bradford to be their long-term starting quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Wanting to stick with Bradford, the Rams decided to deal the pick prior to the draft, with the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins perceived as the most interested bidders. After a brief bidding process, the Redskins acquired the pick by giving the Rams four high-value draft picks over three years: their No. 6 overall pick in 2012, their second-round pick in 2012, and their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
As expected, the Redskins selected Griffin at No. 2, making him the second Baylor Bear to be drafted that high in four years (after Jason Smith in 2009), but the first Baylor quarterback to be chosen second overall since Adrian Burk in 1950.
Griffin wore number 10 for the Redskins, with "Griffin III" on the back of his jersey. This made him the first player in the history of the "Big Four" professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA) to have a Roman numeral on the back of his jersey, as the NFL changed the rule in 2012 to allow players to include generational titles in their names. Griffin previously had "Griffin III" on the back of his jersey while in college, which was actually necessary in order to distinguish him from the other Robert Griffin on the Baylor team. On July 18, 2012, the Redskins officially signed him to a four-year, $21.1 million contract with a $13.8 million signing bonus.
On September 9, 2012, Griffin officially became the NFL's first starting quarterback who was born in the 1990s. In his official debut as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Griffin opened the Redskins' season by completing 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding 10 carries for 42 rushing yards in a 40-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance - the first time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback has been given that honor for his debut game. Griffin's debut performance was further rewarded after he was named NFL Rookie of the Week, and he was given that honor once again after the Redskins' win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. On October 4, he was named September's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month. The next week against the Atlanta Falcons, he left the game late in the third quarter after suffering a mild concussion after receiving a blow to the head by Sean Weatherspoon. He was cleared to play in the next game against the Minnesota Vikings, where he had another impressive performance that included a 76-yard rushing touchdown. The Redskins ended their home-game losing streak and Griffin was named NFL Rookie of the Week for a third time.
On November 14 during the Redskins' bye week, the team voted Griffin an offensive co-captain. Following the Redskins' 31-6 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for a second time. Griffin's performance - passing for 200 yards with 4 touchdowns, rushing for an additional 84 yards, and finishing with a perfect 158.3 passer rating - made him the first rookie in NFL history to pass for 200 yards, pass for 4 touchdowns and rush for more than 75 yards in a single game. Along with that achievement, his performance against the Eagles made him the youngest player in NFL history, at 22 years and 284 days old, to achieve a perfect passer rating in a game.
In the Week 14 game against the Baltimore Ravens on December 9, the Redskins would suffer another injury scare when defensive endHaloti Ngata hit Griffin directly at his right knee, twisting it in the process. On the final drive of the fourth quarter, Griffin was tackled after rushing for 13 yards and hopped on one leg for several plays before leaving the game. Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins would come in the game and lead the Redskins to a 31-28, overtime victory. The next day it was confirmed that Griffin had sustained a Grade 1 LCL sprain. It was decided that Griffin would sit out the next game against the Cleveland Browns to give him more time to heal and avoid the chance of further injuries. He returned the next game and led the Redskins to another victory over the Eagles in Week 16. The knee injury emerged as a controversy on January 6, the day the Redskins faced the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild card game, when USA Today reported that – contrary to a previous statement made by Head Coach Mike Shanahan – Dr. James Andrews had not cleared Griffin to return for the post-injury plays in the December 9 game. Griffin then re-injured his knee in the wild card loss to the Seahawks. Griffin underwent surgery on January 9 and both his LCL and ACL were repaired.
For the season, Griffin set records for highest passer rating by a rookie quarterback (102.4) and highest touchdown to interception ratio (4:1). Aside from the week 15 game against the Cleveland Browns where he did not play, Griffin played a vital role in helping the Redskins finish the regular season on a 7-game winning streak after starting the season 3-6, leading the team to its first playoff appearance since the 2007 season.
On December 26, Griffin was named to enter the 2013 Pro Bowl. Due to injuries on his ACL and LCL ligaments in his right knee, he was negated from the Pro Bowl roster and replaced by Drew Brees.
Griffin on a read-option run during a game against the Eagles in the 2013 season.
After some controversy over whether Griffin would be ready for the season opener (he did not play a single preseason game), he debuted in the loss to Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin failed to replicate his 2012 success during the first half of the 2013 season and remained statistically below expectations until Washington's Week 7 game against the Chicago Bears. Leading the Redskins to a 45-41 victory, Griffin recorded 298 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson. The Redskins' 27-6 loss against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12 was the first game in Griffin's collegiate and professional career where he failed to score a single offensive touchdown. On December 11, head coach Mike Shanahan announced that Griffin would be inactive for last three games of the season and that Kirk Cousins would finish the season as the starter. He claimed that it was done in order to eliminate risk of further injury.
On September 14, 2014, Griffin was carted off the field with after he had suffered a dislocated left ankle against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. X-rays and MRIs revealed no fractures in the ankle.
Griffin has family ties to New Orleans. His paternal grandfather, Robert Griffin Sr., was a foreman for a New Orleans construction company. He suffered from glaucoma for several years, and died in 1984 at age 43 from a brain aneurysm. Financial hardship caused the family to move to the Desire Projects neighborhood.
Griffin's father, Robert Griffin Jr., a talented basketball player at Kennedy High School, enlisted in the Army before he graduated. While stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado, he met and later married Jackie Griffin (née Ross). The couple were deployed to Okinawa, Fort Lewis, and Fort Hood, nearby which they eventually settled after retiring from the military.
Griffin is a ProtestantChristian, who is known for making the sign of the cross after big plays. He has said, "my relationship with God was my most important influence... I praise God, I thank him for everything. Purposefully, you live every day for Him, and when He gives you the opportunity to speak up for Him or to do something in His name, you do it."
^Schefter, Adam (2012-03-12). "Washington Redskins acquire No. 2 overall pick from St. Louis Rams". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2012-11-22. ""In order to execute each of our club's plans for free agency and the upcoming draft, we have agreed to a trade between our two teams for the 2nd pick in the 2012 draft. We will submit this trade to the NFL for approval," Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and Rams general manager Les Snead said in a combined statement Saturday morning."