Seahawks’ Shaquem Griffin may be called upon to replace K.J. Wright
Shaquem Griffin is one of the NFL’s most inspiring stories. Born with amniotic band syndrome, a condition that causes fingers to not fully develop, he had his left hand amputated at age four after his mother caught him trying to ease the pain of his condition by using a butcher’s knife to cut off his hand.
But not even that disability could stop Griffin’s rise to the top of the football world, as the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the fifth round of last year’s draft after a stellar career at the University of Central Florida and an eye-popping performance at the NFL combine.
Griffin didn’t play much as a rookie despite flashing in the preseason. He started the season-opener at weakside linebacker due to an injury to K.J. Wright, but was relegated almost solely to special teams duty from that point forward after “getting fooled on a couple things” in his NFL debut, according to coach Pete Carroll. Griffin went on to play 225 special-team snaps for Seattle, seventh-most on the team, while finishing his rookie campaign with 11 total tackles.
Could the 23-year-old Griffin be ready for a starting role going forward? That depends largely on Seattle’s move in free agency, but Griffin is confident he’ll enter next season far more prepared than he was as a rookie.
“I feel like I can come in, go to work, know what I need to work on and know what it’s going to take for me to be not only like a special-teams player,” he said, per ESPN’s Brady Henderson, “but a key player on defense.”
Wright, 30, started just five games last season while dealing with a knee injury, and is a free agent this offseason. His eventual replacement last season, Mychal Kendricks, is hitting the open market, too, and his NFL future is complicated by the forthcoming sentencing for insider trading charges.
Where that leaves Griffin remains to be seen, but one person in the know certainly expects big things from him in the future.
“He has everything – he runs fast, he’s extremely smart, a very humble kid, and I really feel like the sky is the limit for him as long as he puts in the work, and I know he’s going to put in the work.,” five-time Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner said of Griffin. “He’s a hard worker. I love being around him.”