EvoShield has partnered with Jackie Griffin, mother of RG3, as well as the Haugen family (parents of Taylor Haugen who was killed in a high school football game) to provide a different side of the conversation and dissect what it really means to be a protective parent.
I had the chance to talk with Robert Griffin III's mom to ask her what it means to be a protective parent in a world of football that has multiple ACL tears, concussions, and playing hurt.
RGIII started playing football in junior high, specifically the 7th grade, and both Jackie and her husband have not missed one of Robert's games in his entire career.
Jackie Griffin: When he wanted to play in 7th grade he told me, "Mom, if you let me play they'll never catch me." We had a pinky promise. "If they ever catch me then I'll never play football any more."
Robert never had any injuries through grade school, but as he reached high school, of course the kids were faster and stronger and could tackle him. I asked if she ever had concerns at this point:
"I never really did. We were realistic to know football is a contact sport. Twisted ankles comes along with the sport. We were never nervous about it. It was a decision we made. He loved doing it. It comes with the territory."
When Robert had his first major knee injury at Baylor...what was that like for you?
As parents, we always stand firm, our husband I with out kids, we were always taught to stand firm on our feet with God. We didn't understand it. It comes one of those things that comes with the sport of football. By him getting injured, we relied on our faith. We just wanted to find out what we had to do to get it fixed so that he can continue on his journey that God has him on. We were really really strong as a family in our faith knowing that God was healing and he would continue on his endeavor.
I received a sample of RGIII's padded under gear from EvoShield, which I blogged about last year. What stands out with Evoshield and why did you decide to join this program?
"What really stood out is that my son has been using it since Baylor. He really likes Evoshield and so do I. The product conforms and moves to your body and stays that way. If something molds to you and moves with you, it lessens the impact. And also the mobility. It allows him to do more than the standard padding. He likes that being a mobile QB, it allows him to move around more and feel really comfortable. I really like that." We think this product will help parents feel more secure in whatever sports their kids are competing at.
What about parents who worry about concussions?
"Well...like I said before. Football is a contact support. We would hope technology would continue to advance where helmets will get better and better to help prevent concussions. The reality is it's a contact support. Sometime these things happen. With us, we rely on our faith and that God will protect our kids. As a parent it's hard. Allowing your kid to do some things that you feel a little insecure about. But you must not hold them back from their goals and dreams. No matter how hard it is to accept that this is something they want to do, sometimes you have to let go, be prayerful. And educate yourself on all those things out there that will help your child.
As a protective parent, what was that like for you after RGIII suffered the concussion vs Atlanta?
My husband and I may be different. We honestly entrust our son in Gods hands. After his concussion, we prayed, and he was healed. That's our mindset. I don't know how other parents think. We're really are grounded in our faith. Nothing is too impossible for God. We know God is healing and he's going to be better than he was before. And it came to pass.
The RGIII media treatment. It's frustrating for me to see how much the media can twist things he says and not let him be himself sometimes...is it hard to be a parent with all the commotion and stay grounded?
No, it really doesn't. Years ago when Robert started playing football and doing track and everything. My husband would sit us down, "Do not read the newspaper. Do not follow the television. Stay focused. Do not worry about someone is saying about you. You know the truth. You know what you said or didn't say. What your progress is. You know the truth so you don't have to worry about what anyone else is saying. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So don't get mad at anyone or frustrated. Continue to lead by example."
We like to be a family of little words and more action. He doesn't have to go before the media and say I'm going to do this or that. No. He'll just go out and perform like he always does.
Mike Shanahan mentioned Dr. Andrews has concerns. There is a fine line between RGIII protecting himself and winning the play because we all know if the first down or game is on the line, he's not going to slide short.
Robert has that competitive spirit. He wants to give his very best every time. That competitive edge is a good thing and we don't want him to lose it. He's going to continue to do what he does to help his team win, but he's going to protect himself better.
You have a quote saying, "As a mother, the only thing that hurts more than seeing your child hurt is not allowing them to fulfill their dreams." What was it like for you seeing RGIII play hurt in that Seattle game?
Knowing my son, seeing him out there playing hurt, he was just doing what we instilled him. My husband and I have been injured before but we kept moving forward being soldiers. I couldn't be angry at him. He was only doing what he was taught, and that is never give up until there is nothing left. And that's what he did. He left everything he had out there on that field at the Seattle game.
How is your relationship with Mike Shanahan and Dr. Andrews?
Both of them are awesome individuals. Coach Shanahan's reputation precedes him. He has done some awesome things in the world of the NFL. We respect them greatly. We all have jobs to do. We're all suppose to be one big happy family and we are.