Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
The seconds were winding down and Robert Griffin III's chance to make history was slipping away.
The Baylor quarterback took the snap at Oklahoma's 34-yard line, scanned the field for an open receiver and couldn't find one. He stepped up in the pocket to buy some time, then darted to his left. Just as he was about to be hit, Griffin saw Terrance Williams open in the right corner of the end zone and delivered the pass.
But Griffin did not see the ball land in Williams' hands with eight seconds left in regulation. He was flat on his back after being leveled by a defender.
"One of the offensive linemen came and told me we just won the game," Griffin said after leading Baylor to a shocking 45-38 upset last Nov. 19. It was Baylor's first win ever against the Sooners, breaking a 20-game losing streak. "They said we needed that signature win. We got it."
It was the crowning achievement of a brilliant college career, securing Griffin's legacy as one of the greatest to play the game. He went on to win the Heisman Trophy and position himself for a promising NFL career.
He'll begin that career Thursday, when he's expected to be taken by the Redskins with the second overall pick. Unless the Colts pull a shocker and take Griffin with the first pick, he will be handed the keys to the Redskins' offense and will try to pull the team out of a 21-year championship drought.
Early prediction: This guy may not be able to single-handedly lead the Redskins to a Super Bowl, but he quickly will turn into one of the game's most electrifying players.
Griffin, 22, has a rare blend of talents that include a big-time arm, breathtaking speed and elusiveness, and charisma that gives him a legitimate chance to be the NFL's next big star.
Enough pressure, RG III?
Nah. He makes that much clear wherever he goes.
A few weeks ago at the NFL scouting combine, Griffin was at the podium in front of hundreds of reporters. First question: What socks are you wearing? Griffin smiled, pulled up his pants leg and said, "I've got Ninja Turtles on today." At the Heisman presentation 21/2 months earlier, he showed up wearing Superman socks.
"It started my sophomore year in high school," Griffin said of his sock choices. "I wasn't one that really matched all that well. That's why the socks usually never match anything I'm wearing. It's to show I'm comfortable with who I am, I'm comfortable in my own skin. The socks are just a representation of that."
Someone else asked Griffin, "Who are you?"
"What?" Griffin said. "That sounds like a paper from my English class. Just the person that I am. Some people think I came on the scene this year, so they haven't had as much time to evaluate me. Happy-go-lucky, like to make people laugh but know when to be serious as well."
The serious side: president of his high school senior class . . . graduated in three years from Baylor with a degree in political science . . . studying toward a masters in communications.
Yes, this young man wears his stardom well and has his priorities in order.
That doesn't guarantee he will have an exceptional career. We've seen plenty of blue-chip prospects crumble under the weight of expectations. But if there were ever two top picks ready to live up to those standards, it's Stanford's Andrew Luck and Griffin. And not necessarily in that order.
"You look at the film and you like what you see," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who hasn't had a big-time quarterback since John Elway with the Broncos in the 1990s. "As we all know, from the collegiate level to the pro level, there are growing pains. Every quarterback goes through it. But [Griffin's] got such a big upside."
That's what convinced the Redskins to stake their future on him by making a blockbuster deal with the Rams to move up to No. 2 overall. They won't be disappointed.