Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin will be making his first-ever NFL start on Sunday afternoon, when his team faces the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Griffin, who was drafted by Seattle with the No. 141 pick in the fifth round, doesn’t exactly have your typical NFL rookie story.
He made headlines in college at UCF and later in the NFL for excelling at linebacker without his left hand, which he lost due to a rare prenatal condition.
He shared a moment with his brother, Shaquill, before the game:
The Griffin brothers sharing a moment before the game pic.twitter.com/nbi6KUYenA— Mark (@tole_cover) September 9, 2018
His start on Sunday comes as a bit of a surprise, but he’s been making plays since his arrival in Seattle.
Griffin has been making his presence felt all summer. During training camp, he intercepted quarterback Russell Wilson:
He went on to play in every preseason game and totaled a team-leading 26 tackles, though he only started in the last one.
On Sunday, Griffin will be starting in place of linebacker K.J. Wright, who is dealing with a knee injury. Here’s more from Field Gulls:
Griffin led all Seahawks in tackles this preseason, flying around the field whether in run support or in pass coverage. With Wright hitting free agency next year, it’s not out of the equation that Shaquem is KJ’s long-term replacement, but focusing specifically on this week, it’s a truly incredible moment. Not just for his physical handicap of having one hand, but the fact that he’ll be starting alongside his twin brother Shaquill on opening day.
What’s even cooler is that he’ll get to start with his brother, Seahawks corner Shaquill.
The two brothers grew up playing football together, and they both played at UCF on defense for a few seasons.
“It’s something you dream about, you talk about when you’re younger, but for it to actually happen, I definitely couldn’t have imagined that would actually happen,” Shaquill said of starting alongside his brother, via the Seahawks’ official website. “People say ‘a dream come true,’ we actually can say it and mean it, and not just use that saying. It’s something I would have never expected. It’s crazy how it happened, how this whole journey went, how it’s going—going into game one, just to know that he’s on the team, it’s a blessing that we’re going into Week 1 together as teammates.”
Shaquem became a household name with his NFL Combine performance in February.
He ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a linebacker EVER at 4.38 seconds. That was the same time that his brother ran in 2017 ... and Shaquem weighs in about 30 pounds more than Shaquill.
And his bench press was just flat-out inspiring:
He shot up the draft boards from there.
When he got drafted, it was an incredible moment to see.
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
His combine paired with his impressive skillset made it basically a given that he would get drafted. Griffin was the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and continued to improve. In 2017, was selected to the conference’s first team again and also added a Peach Bowl MVP award to his name. He helped deliver UCF an undefeated season and first claimed national championship in school history.
Kickoff between Seattle and Denver is slated for 4:25 p.m. ET.