Unfortunately for Browns fans, the ultracharismatic “RG3” was wearing the colors of the Washington Redskins, not Cleveland’s familiar orange and brown.
“Once I declared for the draft, Cleveland is the place I thought I would be, just because they had the most firepower when it came to draft picks and trade ability,” Griffin said. “It didn’t turn out that way, and I have no idea why it didn’t, but that was the end result.”
Griffin was in Berea as part of the NFL Rookie Symposium, which included a youth football clinic featuring instruction from every player who was selected by an NFC team in the 2012 draft.
The former Baylor quarterback was the second overall pick by the Redskins, who outbid the Browns to acquire that choice from the St. Louis Rams in a very public duel.
Both teams planned on taking Griffin at No. 2, but Washington’s package of first-round picks in 2012, ’13 and ’14, and a second-rounder was more to the Rams’ liking.
The Browns also reportedly offered three first-rounders — Nos. 4 and 22 overall this year, plus their 2013 pick — and a second-round choice, but were unable to get a deal done.
“When we walked in here today, that’s the first thing our player guide said: You could have been playing here,” Griffin said. “But it turned out in a different way, and there’s no looking back for me.”
The Browns wound up moving into the third spot in a trade with the Vikings and drafted Alabama running back Trent Richardson. They subsequently snared Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden at 22.
Though Griffin made it clear he “never said” he didn’t want to play in Cleveland, he praised the Browns for adding his former Big 12 rival.
“I got to train with him at (Athletes’ Performance) in Arizona during the combine process and got to know him a little bit, and he’s a great guy,” said Griffin, who is six years younger than the 28-year-old Weeden. “What he does on the field speaks for itself. He’s got a great arm, seems like a great leader.
“Everyone wants to question his age, but as long as you’re playing well right now, it doesn’t matter what your age is.”
While some of the rookies strictly went through the motions during the 90-minute clinic, Griffin interacted with as many grade school children as he could. His smile was infectious, as was his glee when campers made nice catches of his throws.
Griffin also drew plenty of laughter by wearing multicolored, heart-covered socks with his NFL-issued gear. However, he turned stone-cold serious when asked about being the target of an alleged extortion plot by ex-Baylor basketball player Richard Khamir Hurd.
Hurd was arraigned Monday in federal court in Waco, Texas, where he was charged with threatening to release “derogatory information” about a player that The Associated Press identified as Griffin.
Griffin declined to comment specifically on the situation, but said it was timely, seeing as the four-day symposium largely consists of presentations by NFL players who have run afoul of the law and the league.
“There’s vultures out there, people looking to climb on top of all your money,” the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder said.
“No one should have higher expectations for you than yourself. I expect greatness out of myself, and I’m not where I want to be today.”