After more than a few bouts of uncertainty, Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks this weekend. Griffin’s stock skyrocketed when, at this year’s NFL Combine, he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash — the fastest ever recorded by a linebacker — and knocked down 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Even more impressive, Shaquem only has one hand and by getting drafted he becomes the first NFL player with that physical feature. Watching the 22-year-old Griffin, tears streaming, embrace his twin brother Shaquill, who was drafted by the Seahwaks just one season before, is a hell of a thing to behold.
Shaquem Griffin lost his hand when he was just four-years-old. He suffered amniotic band syndrome, the result of the amniotic sac wrapping around and preventing proper development of his hand while in the womb. The pain he experienced from his hand became so severe Shaquem once tried to cut his hand off himself before having it amputated.
Which is to say that this guy’s had a hell of a road to the NFL — and stands as a symbol to any kid who’s struggled with a setback. In an essay he penned for The Players Tribune, Griffin explained that, while his brother and teammates got to train at UCF, he was sent home where he towed cars with his father the Summer before his last year playing college football. This was after years of being relegated to the first and second string squads. It was in those moments that he’d remember his father’s mantra, “nothing comes easy.” By his last season with UCF, Griffin had helped lead them to an undefeated season. Not to mention, Shaquem’s NFL combine performance was nothing short of sensational.
Shaquem and his twin brother Shaquill join a small club of twins to play in the NFL at the same time, but the even smaller handful to end up on the same NFL team. The Griffin brothers not being the first pair of siblings to play on the same NFL team should not suggest that it’s happened very many times in the past. Brothers have only ended up on the same team 38 times in the history of the NFL. What’s more is that most of those pairings consist of two brothers playing on different sides of the ball. Shaquem and Shaquill play linebacker and cornerback respectively and are the fourth sibling duo to play offense on the field together. Nothing does come easy. But good things come after the hard work is over.