Shaquem Griffin, first one-handed player in NFL history, retires
▶ Watch Video: The brotherly love that helped Shaquem Griffin make it to the NFL as a one-handed player
Linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who made history as the first one-handed NFL player, announced his retirement Wednesday. His twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The 27-year-old explained his decision to leave pro football in a piece in the Players Tribune, writing that it is “time for me to execute my Plan A.”
For Griffin, that plan includes “doing something” that would “make a positive impact in the world.”
“Honestly, it’s still a little surreal,” he wrote. “After everything I’ve been through in my life — all the hard work, all the doubters — it’s almost unthinkable that I’m hangin’ it up and moving on from the game of football. But I know the positive effect I’m having on others. I’m speaking at colleges and universities, talking to football teams and even presenting to corporate America about never doubting yourself and tirelessly pursuing your dreams.”
Griffin played his college football at the University of Central Florida before being selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, just one year after the Seahawks also selected his brother, cornerback Shaquill Griffin. In his three seasons in Seattle, playing alongside his brother, Shaquem recorded 25 tackles and one sack. He spent a portion of 2021 season on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad.
Griffin said if he was not playing with his brother, he was not interested in being in the NFL anymore.
“As kids we had dreamed of playing together in the NFL, but whenever we talked about it, our dad would remind us that if we made it to the league — especially if we got to play together — that would be an added blessing,” Griffin said.
Griffin said he is moving on from the game — but staying in the league as part of the NFL Legends Community, a program in which retired players mentor current and former players. Griffin said he received an invitation to join the program from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“We started talking about what’s happening on the streets in Chicago and how those communities are suffering,” he wrote. “Guys started throwing out ideas on how we could help. How we could maybe improve people’s lives and make a real positive impact.”
Griffin was born with a defect that deformed his left hand. The underdeveloped hand caused him pain until it was amputated at the age of four. His unlikely football journey, and his bond with his brother, made him an inspiration to many.
The Seahawks congratulated him in a tweet after his announcement.
“A true inspiration on the field,” the team wrote. “A better person off of it. Your story will be remembered for generations.”