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Before Robert Griffin III was a Heisman trophy winner, he was a stand-out on the track.

By Chris Chavez
March 07, 2016

Robert Griffin III has been released by the Washington Redskins and his next move in the NFL is up in the air.

It's a longshot, but the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are just five months away, which could buy the quarterback some time for a return to track and field.

In 2013, Griffin said that his dream is to compete at the Olympics.

“I would definitely want to still fulfill my dream of still going to the Olympics,” Griffin said. “So, some way, somehow. Maybe it’s track. Maybe it’s badminton. Maybe it’s ping pong. I’ll find a way to get to the Olympics.”

It would not be easy and a long hiatus from the sport does not help, but if you're a believer in 'talent never fades' argument then let's explore the possibility and then give a realistic outlook at his Olympic hopes.

RG3 on the track

The track and field community started taking notice of Griffin's success on the track as he won the 110-meter high hurdles (13.55 seconds with a personal best of 13.3) and the 300-meter hurdles (35.33 seconds) at the Texas UIL State Championships in record fashion. Griffin also recorded an unofficial split of 45.7 4x400-meter relay as the anchor leg of the Texas UIL 4A State Championship.

Watch Griffin's 110-meter hurdle victory at the 2007 Texas UIL 4A State Championships (via Flotrack)

Despite his focus on football in college, Griffin won the Big 12 Conference title and the NCAA Midwest Regional before a third place finish at the NCAA national championships while training under famed coach Clyde Hart.

He recorded a personal best of 49.22 at altitude at the Big 12 Championships in Boulder, Colo., which ranks as the 19th best by a junior (U-20) all-time.

Report: Washington Redskins release Robert Griffin III

The Heisman Trophy winner finished 11th in the 400-meter hurdles semi-final at the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials. He felt one spot short of making the finals. The top three finalists went on to compete at the Summer Games in Beijing.

Once he turned his attention to football, Griffin's speed was on display again at the 2012 NFL combine, where he ran 4.38.

The Redskins worked hard to ensure they could pick Griffin— trading three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up in the draft to select him.

Griffin threw 20 touchdowns and rushed for 815 yards en route to being named Offensive Rookie of the Year. He added another 16 touchdowns and threw for 3,202 yards in his sophomore campaign before a knee injury and several setbacks derailed his career.

The quarterback was healthy going into the Redskins' training camp and declared himself the best quarterback in the NFL before being benched for the year by head coach Jay Gruden.

Olympic chances

Griffin turned 26 in February, which would put him in near his prime for track and field development. The prospects of making the Olympic team are not easy.

Griffin is likely too far behind the curve to jump into the men's 110-meter hurdles. Of the top 10 times in the world last year, five were run by American men.

World record holder Aries Merritt was the only one to win a medal at the track and field world championships with a 13.04 second result for bronze.

Olympic silver medalist Jason Richardson, who ran the ninth fastest time of the year with a 13.12 finish at the U.S. championships was left off the U.S. national team. Beating world championship participants and 2012 Olympians seems like a tall order for Griffin.

The men's 400-meter hurdles would probably be the better option yet still a tall order. Aside from requiring speed for the single lap, the event demands endurance for the ten hurdles along the way. The United States had five of the top 10 times in world for 2015.

Improvement upon Griffin's personal best of 49.22 would've put him second at the 2015 NCAA outdoor championships and in the mix at the U.S. championships. Kansas' Michael Stigler won the NCAA championship and finished fourth at the U.S. championship.

Griffin has a chance – albeit a slim one and it could just be making the start line – at making the Olympics, but it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to see gridiron stars such as Marquise Goodwin and USC's Adoree’ Jackson making a return to the track in Rio. The U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. would be a more realistic goal, if he chooses to make a return.

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