Robert Griffin III injury history: How knee, ankle, concussion issues derailed a promising career

Robert Griffin III’s NFL story can’t be told without mentioning injuries.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft won Rookie of the Year but was never the same after knee injuries sustained late in that first season with Washington. Concussions and a dislocated ankle made Griffin’s job even tougher in the nation’s capital, and then his starting chances in Cleveland were taken away just after they’d started due to a shoulder fracture. Overall, Griffin has been on NFL rosters in seven seasons for a total of 106 games, but he’s only played in 55 due to injuries and subsequent relegation to backup duties.

Here’s a look back at the various injuries Griffin has sustained since beginning his college career at Baylor, along with how they’ve impacted his career.

Robert Griffin III injury history

Sept. 26, 2009: Torn Right ACL

Griffin was the Big 12’s Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2008 and opened the 2009 season as a hyped-up starter for Baylor, but he tore his right ACL in the season’s third game and missed the rest of the year. The injury granted him redshirt status to play the following year as a redshirt sophomore.

Oct. 7, 2012: Concussion

In Week 5 of his rookie season, Griffin was hit in the head by Sean Witherspoon and was concussed. He was cleared to play the following week against the Vikings, a game in which he ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Dec. 9, 2012: Grade 1 Right LCL Sprain

Griffin took a hit directly to his right knee from Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. He remained in the game and was visibly limping around the field. Only about a month later did USA Today report that Dr. James Andrews hadn’t given permission for Griffin to stay in the game.

Jan. 6, 2013: Torn Right ACL, LCL and Meniscus

Griffin hurt his right knee more seriously in the Wild-Card Round of the playoffs against the Seahawks, requiring major offseason surgery. Griffin admitted after the game that he “did put myself at more risk by being out there.”

Sept. 14, 2014: Dislocated Left Ankle

In Week 2 of his third season, Griffin needed to be carted off the field after dislocating his left ankle. X-rays and MRIs revealed no fractures, and Griffin returned in Week 9.

Aug. 20, 2015: Concussion

A concussion in Week 2 of the preseason kept Griffin out of the following week, when Kirk Cousins played well and was named Washington’s starter for the 2015 season. Griffin wound up third on the depth chart and didn’t play a snap. 

Sept. 11, 2016: Left Shoulder Fracture

Griffin signed with Cleveland and was the starter in Week 1 on Sept. 11, but he fractured the coracoid bone in his left shoulder and didn’t return until Week 14. He’d only make five total starts in his lone season with the Browns.

Dec. 24, 2016: Concussion

Griffin was concussed in the second-to-last game of his only season with the Browns, but he was cleared and played in Week 17, throwing two touchdowns against the Steelers.

July 27, 2019: Right Thumb Hairline Fracture

At an open practice, Griffin suffered a hairline fracture in his right thumb and was expected to miss four-to-eight weeks. He returned in time for the season opener on Sept. 8, when he came in for mop-up duty and completed all six of his passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. 

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