One-handed LB Shaquem Griffin delivers inspirational message
“Something special’s coming soon” to the NFL combine.
Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin’s one-handed twin brother Shaquem will participate in the NFL’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis at the end of February. The departing senior linebacker from Central Florida, where Shaquill played with him through 2016, announced his selection on his Twitter account Tuesday.
The NFL initially left Griffin off its combine invite list--just as it did to Shaquill last year before he also eventually got invited, then drafted in third round by Seattle. Shaquem impressed scouts--and everyone with eyes and a heart--at last week’s Senior Bowl. He was the game’s practice player of the week.
“Thank you for all y’all’s support. You know, the entire nation was behind me, and I couldn’t do it without you,” Griffin said on his post Tuesday. “I’m going to let you know, something special’s coming soon. You are going to see it. They invited the right one to the NFL combine.”
Griffin is attempting to be the first player with one hand drafted into the NFL in the modern era. After he announced he got invited to the combine, congratulations poured in online from throughout the league--including from Seahawks running back Mike Davis.
Shaquem’s been an inspiration for his twin brother – and vice versa – since Shaquem had to have his left hand amputated when they were 4 years old because of a congenital disorder known as amniotic band syndrome. It occurs in about one out of every 1,200 births. The twins played sports together throughout growing up in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
Shaquill made it clear to college recruiters, such as from his dream school, Miami, if they wanted him to sign for a scholarship that program would have to sign his twin brother, too.
Then-Central Florida coach George O’Leary was one who said he wanted them both. So the brothers went to UCF. Shaquem redshirted and had one more season there this fall. That turned into a storybook finale while he was separated from Shaquill for one of the only times in their lives. Shaquem’s UCF Knights were the only undefeated team in major college football this past season. They finished 13-0 by beating Auburn in this month’s Peach Bowl. Shaquem starred in that game, too.
Throughout their experience Shaquill realized he and his brother should mentor and motivate kids. That’s why when they were 14 Shaquill and Shaquem began the St. Pete Nitro track team for kids aged 4 to 18. They still have the club in St. Petersburg, their birthplace, though they have surrogates coaching for them now that Shaquill’s starting in Seattle--and Shaquem is on his way to the combine in his quest to join his twin in the NFL as, he says, “against all odds.”
"I feel like the situations that we have to overcome that me and my brother go through, I felt like I was in a position to try to reach kids," Shaquill Griffin said during his Seahawks rookie season of 2017, when All-Pro Richard Sherman mentored him into a starting cornerback. "I have my own track team and I have a lot of kids who look up to me and I feel like I found a way to reach out to people. People tend to listen to me, so I feel like it’s easy for me to be a motivational speaker. I always feel like I want to give back. I was just raised that way. I want the team to do that and use this platform to reach everybody that I can."
Thanks to the NFL changing its mind and doing the right thing in inviting Shaquem to the combine, both Griffins are on track to be at the pinnacle of their sport--together?
The Seahawks have a new defensive coordinator in returning Ken Norton Jr. He was Seattle’s linebackers coach through the 2014 season. And coach Pete Carroll has said since last year he wanted to get younger with quality depth behind star linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
Shaquem Griffin was an all-league linebacker in the American Athletic Conference his final two seasons at UCF. He was the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2016, and was defensive most valuable player in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Maybe he won’t be a linebacker in the NFL. Perhaps he’ll be a safety or a hybrid player for tackling out of the secondary.
Whatever. That hardly matters right now.
“I’m going to show you. I’ve got a lot to prove,” Shaquem Griffin said to end his post Tuesday.
“Against all odds.”