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One Hand, No Problem

Austin Hutson

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Around 24,000 men have played professional football in the NFL. All of these men have at least one thing in common. No player has ever played with a missing body part. However, the determined college football star Shaquem Griffin is soon to be 1 out of the 24,000 to change this.

  Griffin was born with a disorder called amniotic band syndrome. This syndrome is a rare condition in which part of the amniotic sac separates and entangles digits, limbs, or other parts of the fetus.

The amniotic sac was wrapped around Griffins left hand. When he was born the tissues in his hand were so soft ESPN described it as a glove filled with jelly.   At the age of 4, the pain became so excruciating for him Griffin’s parents found him with a kitchen knife planning to cut his hand off by himself. Griffin’s parents immediately scheduled an appointment to have his hand amputated the very next day. The complication of only having one hand certainly was a disadvantage. However, it wasn’t going to stop Griffin from starting something that is still so close to his heart today.

  “I started playing football because I loved it. And yeah, just like anybody else my view of the game has definitely changed as I have got older. But it hasn’t turned into a job or an obligation. It’s developed into a purpose,” said Griffin

     Griffin began playing football at a young age. In ‘The Players Tribune’ (a letter written by college athletes to the NFL GMs)  Griffin tells a story about a playoff game for his eight year old team. He had the game ending interception, and his first ever interception that day. This moment set his everyday mindset for the rest his life.

  “Nobody was ever going to tell me that I didn’t belong on the football field, and nobody was ever going to tell me that I couldn’t be great,” Said Griffin.

  The young football player proved that by later becoming the captain of his high school football team.

  His performances in highschool led to a scholarship to the University of Central Florida, a division I school from the American Athletic Conference (AAC).

  Griffin was set on playing as a freshman for the Central Florida Knights. However, this wasn’t the case. In fact, Griffin was redshirted (to keep a player out of competition for a year to further their development, and extend their period of playing eligibility) his first year at the collegiate level. The following year he worked his way up to the second string spot, but after just two weeks into the season he was put on the scout team. Griffin described watching his twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, play on saturdays while he sat on the sidelines or in the dorm as one of the hardest parts of his first years in college.

“I didn’t travel with the team much those first few years. When it came time for the team to go on the road, my brother and our two roommates, who were also on the team, all went. So on Saturdays, it was just me, alone in our dorm room watching the game,” said Griffin.

  Griffin also stated that he remembers telling his mom that he thought that college was a negative place for him many times. The school was not the problem for him however. In fact, Griffin loved UCF the real problem was “that dorm room, man,” said Griffin

  However, his time to prove himself came. During the summer before his first year of playing, he  worked with his fathers towing business. After dropping off a car to one of their customers, the man pulled a 5 dollar bill out of his pocket to give to Griffin, but before handing him the tip, he ripped it in half and put one half in his pocket and gave Griffin the other half. The man looked at Griffin and said

  “Keep on working, son. Nothing comes easy,”

This reminded him of what his dad always used to say to him as a kid.

  “Nothing comes easy,” said Griffin’s father and mentor in life.

  His junior year of college, Griffin got his time to show his capabilities, and he did just that. He recorded  92 total tackles with 57 solo tackles, 11.5 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, 1 interception, and 7 pass breakups. The one handed football phenomenon was rewarded with the AAC Defensive Player Of The Year award. Following his outbreak junior season, Griffen recorded another remarkable addition of 74 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, team high 7 sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles for the 13-0 Knights. His senior season he was not only a first-team all-conference choice, but also received  the Peach Bowl defensive MVP award. Griffin’s outstanding performances turned heads everywhere.

  Meanwhile, Griffin knew he still had things to prove. He wasn’t content with his past performances. So he turned even more heads, and gained a great deal of respect during his NFL Combine. With a prosthetic hand, Griffin put up 20 reps on the bench press, and ran a remarkable 4.38 40-yard dash. As a matter of fact, this 4.38 40-yard dash time was the fastest time from a linebacker since 2003. The combine results had NFL GMs and coaches focused on him.

  “He doesn’t have a left hand. That’s going to limit him with some things and that’s going to hurt his draft value, but he’s fast and athletic and makes tons of plays,” said a NFC team scouting director

  Griffin became the talk around the sports world. Every sports news station, and even the regular news, were talking or writing about the inspiring Shaquem Griffin. He became famous gaining support from all around the world. Even the NFL itself is a big fan.

  “New Year’s resolution: Be more like UCF’s Shaquem Griffin,” tweet posted by the NFL from American Football.

  However, the football field isn’t the only place that has made people root for him. Griffin’s character off the field has increased the abundance of fans dramatically. Griffin has done a number of work in the community, such as; starting a track club in his hometown, motivational speaking events, work at the boys and girls club,  and all sorts of charities.

Griffin can be seen as a role model by anyone, but he is followed greatly by kids who also have birth defects or are handicapped in general.

  “I feel like all the boys and girls out there with birth defects… we have our own little nation, and we have got to support each other,” said Griffin

  He is living proof that obstacles in life are not the end, but just a bump in the road. He is a flawless example of how to react to people who doubt.

  “If you are one of those who doubted me… well I want to thank you, too. Because you are what keeps me motivated  everyday to work hard and play even harder,” said Griffin

  Griffin has had a significant amount of doubters in his life, as a result; he took that doubt and made it positive.

  Shaquem Griffin is soon to be the 1 out of the 24,000 men to make it to the NFL with a missing limb. Griffin will open a new door, and go down as one of the most inspiring players in football history.

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