By Kellie Cowan
WACO, TX -- Robert Griffin will likely never forget his pro day at Baylor: the bright lights of cameras from over 150 media members shining on him, ESPN on site to televise the day live, numerous media outlets on hand ready to go live from Waco, Texas. But it probably won't be Griffin's most lasting memory created inside the Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility.
That's because two years ago - before the Heisman, before leading Baylor to its first bowl win in 19 years, before the Redskins traded away years' worth of first-round picks just to have the chance to draft him - Griffin was a promising young quarterback at a lesser-known Big 12 program making his comeback from an ACL tear. Still mostly a secret to those outside of Waco, Griffin was on the precipice of stardom, but late one night in October, after routing Kansas and picking up the Bears' sixth win of the season - a win that meant Baylor would end the school's 15-year bowl drought - Griffin wasn't thinking about his football future.
He was thinking about his future with then-girlfriend Rebecca Liddicoat. Win or lose, Griffin had picked this night as the night he would propose to her.
"He did it the proper way. We're a traditional family," Griffin's mother, Jacqueline, said at Wednesday's pro day. "He asked her mother and father for her hand in marriage."
There was nothing traditional, however, about this proposal, primarily thanks to the unique location.
"Actually, he had proposed to her in here," Mrs. Griffin said before pointing to the middle of the indoor practice center. "Right there in the middle of the BU."
No, the artificial-turf-covered field was not the location originally chosen by Griffin.
"It wasn't initially supposed to be in here." his mother said. "He had shown me a tree that they used to go and sit under and talk, but it stormed that night."
Panicked, Griffin called his mother for help. He needed an alternative.
"He was like, 'Mom, you got to come up with a backup plan for me.' And you know that military kicks in because we always got to have a backup plan." his mother said, laughing.
Jacqueline Griffin, with her husband, two daughters and her grandchild in tow, drove through campus scanning for a Plan B. When she saw that the lights to the indoor practice field happened to be on that night, she had an idea.
Recruits were taking a tour of Baylor's impressive football facilities that night. Mrs. Griffin found head coach Art Briles and called in a favor.
"I told him I need to use the facility, but I couldn't tell him what it was for." she said.
Briles agreed to the strange request, given she was finished by the time the recruits returned from touring another part of campus.
"I ran around here like a little chicken with my head cut off putting everything together." Mrs. Griffin recalled.
Griffin and Liddicoat arrived soon after to find the complex completely dark and, presumably to Liddicoat, empty.
"When he got in the building, he said, 'Rebecca, wait a minute. I got to use the bathroom.' My husband was in the bathroom with the ring. It was a team effort." Mrs. Griffin said, again laughing.
As Griffin walked Liddicoat out onto the field, a teammate of his began playing a guitar from an unseen staircase overlooking the field and Griffin began to sing a song he wrote for her. When the two reached the center of the field, it was illuminated by eight artificial candles (she "didn't want to burn the building down," Mrs. Griffin said), which revealed Griffin's family joined by Liddicoat's mother, father and two sisters, standing in a circle.
Griffin got down on one knee.
"She was crying -- we all were crying -- and we hurried up, got cleaned up, and by the time we did all that, they [the facility staff] came back and said, 'Mrs. Griffin, we got to cut the lights off.'" Griffin's mother said. "I said we were finished and they said, 'What were you all doing in here?' "