Meet Shaquem Griffin. He’s a 22-year-old linebacker who received a last-minute invite to the NFL Combine and immediately proved he belongs among the hopeful players trying to earn a spot in the league.
Griffin also singlehandedly broke a long-standing record at the event. And I mean that literally—because he happens to only have one hand.
This week, in front of NFL scouts in Indianapolis, Griffin clocked the fastest 40-yard dash by any linebacker, at 4.38 seconds. He beat the time set by former NFL linebacker Jon Alston, whose 4.40 run had been the record since 2006.
Check out Griffin’s sprint in the video below to see just how fast that really is. His 40-yard dash starts at about the 0:44 mark.
But running a blazing 40 wasn’t the only way Griffin impressed scouts at the NFL Combine. He also had one of the best distances among linebackers in the broad jump and was able to bench press 225 pounds for 20 reps while wearing a prosthetic.
According to Sports Illustrated, Griffin had his left hand amputated at the age of 4 after suffering from amniotic band syndrome. It’s something that has apparently never held him back—and seems to have made him stronger.
Griffin was a dominant force while playing college football at the University of Central Florida. A few of his accolades include being named the American Athletic Conference’s defensive player of the year in 2016, as well as defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl.
“But this was the first time I ever had to deal with somebody telling me I shouldn’t—or couldn’t—do something because of my hand,” Griffin wrote in an open letter to NFL general managers. “Like I was defective or something. Like I didn’t belong. And that was the moment I realized I was always going to have to prove people wrong.”
And he has, in the most inspiring ways.
Griffin’s 40-yard dash time matched his twin brother, Shaquill Griffin’s, time from last year. Shaquill now plays cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. That’s no surprise, as Shaquem has apparently been motivated by his brother his whole life. If that trend continues, his next step is surely a spot on an NFL squad.
Already, Shaquem has earned quite the fan club with other top NFL stars tweeting their support. Denver Broncos star linebacker Von Miller shared he “would love to play” with him.
And Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman also applauded Griffin’s accomplishments, saying “the system is broken” if he doesn’t get drafted early.
The NFL’s website currently has Griffin graded as a potential backup or special teams player. His dream of becoming a professional football player could be realized on April 26, when the 2018 NFL Draft kicks off.
How could you not root for this guy?
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