If you didn’t know who former UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin was before, you did by the time Sunday’s NFL Combine workouts were over. Griffin, who was the 2016 AAC Defensive Player of the Year, impressed and inspired everyone in Indianapolis. For those that don’t know, Griffin’s left hand was amputated thanks to a birth defect he was born with. But this hasn’t slowed him down. Here’s a brief background on Griffin’s story, from the Orlando Sentinel:
Shaquem was 4 years old when doctors amputated his left hand as the result of amniotic band syndrome, a congenital birth defect that occurs in about one in every 1,200 births.
He lived with constant, scorching pain every time his jelly-like fingers and hand touched anything. One night, his mother found Shaquem in the kitchen with a knife attempting to cut his fingers off.
”He was like, ‘It’s hurting me really bad, it hurts, it hurts. Just cut it off, cut it off,’” Tangie said. “I called the doctor the next morning.”
There are so many reasons why Griffin’s combine performance was the most amazing story to come out of Indy, and they’re all awesome.
1. Folks, he ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a linebacker ever!
He ran a freaking 4.38 on Sunday, and it was absolutely incredible to watch:
Speaking to NFL Network’s Kim Jones after the performance, he said, “My adrenaline was going through the roof. I ain’t feel like I needed to stop. As soon as I heard 16, I was like ‘Oh yeah, I’m going for 20.’” Griffin added, “A lot of people didn’t think I was going to be able to do the bench press.”
That included a GM who said he’d be impressed if Griffin did just five reps. It motivated him:
5. He made a name for himself with a slew of former and current NFL stars.
J.J. Watt, Richard Sherman, Deion Sanders, and several other big names chimed in.
6. With a performance like this, him getting drafted is almost a certainty.
He was the most impressive linebacker of the group by far, so his stock increased drastically. Here’s Mocking The Draft’s Dan Kadar’s take on Griffin from late January:
Going down to the Senior Bowl last week was the best thing that could have happened to Griffin. It obviously let him show off a big personality in meetings with NFL teams. More importantly, he was able to line up at multiple positions, besides just rush end. In that role, he would have some trouble getting off blocks in the NFL. But at the Senior Bowl he lined up at safety and a more traditional linebacker role and reportedly played well.
7. He was a late invite to the combine, too.
The fact that this performance at one point wasn’t certain to take place is astounding. He was invited after that Senior Bowl performance, during which he was named the Practice Player of the Week in Mobile leading up to the game.
Defying expectations for Griffin is nothing new. Last season, he forced this Memphis fumble, mind you, with just one hand.
This by far is the absolute best story to come out of Indianapolis in years. He had a real shot at landing with a team before his performance, but now, they’ll be chomping at the bit to get him.
Congrats on one hell of a week, Shaquem! You 100% deserve what’s coming your way, my man.