Maybe the coolest moment of the NFL Draft so far came four picks into the fifth round Saturday, when the Seattle Seahawks used the No. 141 overall pick on UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin.
Griffin, the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, had his left hand amputated at age four due to a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. His selection Saturday made him the first one-handed player ever taken in the NFL Draft.
As if overcoming enormous odds to be drafted into the NFL weren’t reason enough for Griffin to celebrate, the linebacker had extra reason for excitement Saturday. Because in Seattle, he will have a chance to again play alongside his twin brother Shaquill Griffin, a cornerback who recorded 59 tackles and an interception for the Seahawks after being selected in the third round last year.
Upon processing all this, the Griffin family reacted about as you would expect.
If you don’t get chills/tears/misty-eyed watching the scene at Shaquem Griffin’s house when he was drafted, get your heart checked. pic.twitter.com/xD3x03prKa
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) April 28, 2018
Griffin told ESPN he was literally speechless after getting the call Saturday.
“I couldn’t breathe,” Griffin said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was trying to get the words out, but I couldn’t talk.”
Griffin has overcome some serious doubts at every step of his football career. He was recruited to UCF largely as an afterthought, a way to lure the more highly touted Shaquill to campus… only to emerge as the Knights’ best player. He was initially snubbed from the NFL Draft Combine before earning a belated invite… and wowing scouts with 20 reps onthe bench press. Now he enters the NFL as a mere fifth-round pick, with a chance to prove his skeptics wrong once again. It would probably not be wise to bet against him.