Rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin has generated rave reviews in his first NFL training camp, despite a physical disability from which few pro football players suffer.
“Shaquem is definitely one that stands out to me,” linebacker Bobby Wagner told USA Today. “All the people that doubted him because he doesn’t have a hand? He’s a great player. He’s flying around making plays, he picked off Russ, he’s batting down passes, making sacks.”
“He’s playing surprisingly really good,” Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. “I mean, this kid is fast, he’s really smart, he’s really physical, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and he shows up every day. He’s for real. We understand that he’s missing a hand — and everybody focuses on that note — but he’s a real football player. . . . He’s a joy to coach.”
Griffin, whose twin brother, Shaquill, already was a member of the Seahawks, generated great numbers at the Scouting Combine after a stellar career at UCF. But the lack of a hand surely contributed to his slide, and it could be that plenty of teams regret not taking a chance on him before the Seahawks threw out a lifeline in round five.
“I feel like I’m adjusting well,” Griffin recently told reporters. “The only thing I’m doing is listening to my coaches and they always say, make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice. So I make sure I emphasize on that. If it’s anything I mess up on, I make sure I don’t do it the next day. I just pay attention to what my coaches are telling me and I just follow the footsteps of the guys in front of me. Me doing that, I’m making more and more plays and the only thing I need to do is keep doing what I’m doing.”
But Griffin doesn’t yet believe he belongs in the NFL.
“Definitely not, definitely not,” he said. “I got a lot to prove. I got to prove myself every single day, I’m not going to get comfortable where I’m at. I’m blessed and happy to be here, but the work is not done. Far from done. I’m just here to learn more and be the best player and be the best teammate I can be.”
So far, so good. And if he thrives in the NFL, it will be an inspiration to anyone who is trying to fight through adversity or disability of any kind.