Shaquem Griffin is one of the best stories in football right now.
Shaquem didn’t let having one hand stop him from playing football.
The University of Central Florida linebacker lost his left hand at the age of 4 due to a rare condition called amniotic band syndrome, which stunted the development of his hand, according to a 2012 Tampa Bay Times article.
Griffin was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in his first year of starting at outside linebacker back in 2016. For the past two seasons, he dominated for the Knights, including in the team’s unbeaten 2017 season. Griffin totaled an incredible 33.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks combined the past two seasons. The Seahawks’ selection of Griffin in the fifth round was a highly emotional moment for all involved.
Shaquill Griffin, who is a starting cornerback on the Seahawks, who was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round last year wasn’t going to let his twin brother, Shaquem Griffin, miss the best phone call of his life; even if it meant barging into a bathroom to make sure he didn’t.
It was a few minutes before 11 a.m. PT Saturday when Shaquem, watching the NFL draft from a hotel in Dallas along with several family members, got up and exited the room, leaving his phone behind. Shaquill sprang into action when it began to ring, knowing exactly what it meant once he recognized the 425 area code on the screen.
With the Seattle Seahawks calling, the dream they’ve had since they were 5 years old of playing together in the NFL was coming true.
“When I saw that, I grabbed the phone and jumped over everybody else on the floor and went to the bathroom,” said Shaquill, the second-year Seahawks cornerback. “I checked to see if he locked the door; he didn’t lock the door. I said, ‘You have to grab this!’ I said, ‘You don’t have time for this!’ I handed him the phone, and that’s how it went.”
Said Shaquem: “I looked, and that’s when tears just started pouring down.”
He was hardly alone. The Seahawks’ selection of Griffin in the fifth round was a highly emotional moment for all involved.
“#AgainstAllOdds,” is all Griffin had to say on Twitter as he tweeted a GIF of family and friends jumping with excitement.
“Welcome to the family,” the Seahawks tweeted Saturday with Griffin’s signature hashtag “#AgainstAllOdds.”
What makes Shaquem’s draft situation that more interesting, he will be reunited with his twin brother.
“I had a feeling [it could happen],” Shaquem said, “but the chances are really low.”
The brothers spoke with Seattle-area reporters on a conference call while making their way from the hotel room back to the draft at AT&T Stadium. Shaquem said the first thing Shaquill asked him after he got the call from the Seahawks was, “So are you living with me or no?”
“We may have to knock some walls down,” Shaquill joked on the conference call, “but we’ll figure it out.”
This is the first time since 2001 that brothers were drafted by the same team, according to ESPN. The last time was when the Tennessee Titans drafted wide receiver Kevin Dyson in 1998 and his brother, cornerback Andre Dyson, in 2001.
Prior to Griffin, NFL.com says Ellis Jones was the first one-handed player before the Super Bowl era to be drafted, in 1945.
Even before the draft, Griffin signed an endorsement deal with Nike. He tweeted a photo of himself signing papers Friday with a printed Nike swoosh at the top.
“Never doubt heart,” Griffin tweeted. “Excited to announce I’m joining the @usnikefootball fam. Let’s work! #againstallodds” Griffin’s additional corporate sponsors include Bose, JC Penny, Eleven James, among others.
The interest in Griffin isn’t surprising. As a one-handed football player, Griffin will inspire football fans everywhere for his ability to overcome extreme adversity and make it to the NFL.
His jersey undoubtedly will become a top seller, and his situation will attract plenty of casual fans who typically only watch the Super Bowl to plenty of other games.
“#AgainstAllOdds, @ShaquemGriffin is headed to the @Seahawks to be reunited with @ShaquillG!!” UCF tweeted Saturday.