The sad story of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins should be a cautionary tale for superstar rookie Odell Beckham Jr. and the New York Giants.
Griffin took the NFL by storm after being the second player selected in the 2012 NFL Draft. His electrifying athleticism and blinding speed packaged with a zone read scheme NFL defenses weren't prepared for, a powerful running back in Alfred Morris and a cannon arm were unlike anything the league had ever experienced.
Griffin passed for 3,200 yards, ran for the unheard of for a quarterback total of 815 yards, led the Redskins to an NFC East title, earned a Pro Bowl selection and was named 2012 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Since then, RGIII's career has disintegrated. He has been benched two years in a row. There are many reports that he has alienated himself from teammates in the Washington locker room. He got one coach fired last year. This year another one might run away on his own, seeking the shelter of a better offer anywhere else.
Blame injuries. Blame mismanagement by the Redskins. Blame Griffin's own attitude or work habits. Blame all of the above. Griffin is the poster child for why careers are judged over a long period of time, not on one incredible season.
Which brings us to Beckham.
The rookie has taken the NFL by storm. He is in the process of re-writing the Giants' rookie receiving record book, with shots at breaking the receptions and yardage records held by Jeremy Shockey. He was NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for November. In the last six weeks, Beckham's 49 catches and 723 yards lead the NFL. Those 49 receptions are an NFL rookie record for a six-game span.
Beckham has become pals with NBA mega-star LeBron James. The jersey he wore while making a spectacular 43-yard touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys is already displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Can Beckham maintain his desire and keep his focus on football, something James has implored him to do and Griffin never seemed to really want to do? Can Beckham stay healthy? NFL history is littered with broken bodies and broken dreams, players who never became what they could have or should have because the game is cruel and leaves no one un-scarred. Can Beckham and the Giants get to a point where they are good enough that Beckham's talents are on display in unforgettable playoff and Super Bowl moments? For all his heroics, the Giants are 2-7 in the nine games Beckham has taken part in.
Beckham looks like a player who, if everything goes according to the script, could end up becoming one of the great players in Giants history. There is, however, a long way to go and a mine field of pitfalls to negotiate before he and the Giants get there.
Things don't always go according to plan. Just ask Griffin and the Redskins.