One of the most improbable players in recent NFL history has called it a career. Shaquem Griffin, the former Seahawks linebacker who had his left hand amputated at the age of 4, announced Wednesday that he is retiring after four seasons. Writing for The Players' Tribune, the former UCF standout revealed that he drew interest from a half-dozen teams after a 2021 offseason stint with the Dolphins, but ultimately decided to step away from the game to join the NFL Legends Community, a mentorship program.
The 27-year-old Griffin, twin brother to current Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin, was born with a rare birth defect preventing the fingers on his left hand from fully developing. Still he rose to become a football and track star at Lakewood High School in Florida, then an All-American linebacker for UCF. A fifth-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2018, one year after his brother Shaquill was drafted by Seattle, Griffin spent the first three years of his career alongside his sibling.
The linebacker appeared in all but two games from 2018-2020, mostly as a reserve on Seattle's defense. After Shaquill signed with the Jaguars in 2021 free agency, Griffin also departed, signing a one-year deal with the Dolphins. He was released as part of final cuts, however, and spent half the year on Miami's practice squad.
"I worked out for the Cardinals, the Titans and the Jets, and then I got calls from Buffalo, Dallas and Atlanta," Griffin wrote for The Players' Tribune. "But after that Jets workout, I realized something. All this traveling around, working out for teams, trying to catch on somewhere, trying to hang on -- it wasn't what I wanted. Football had already given me so much, and the only thing I still really wanted from the game was to play with my brother again."
So Griffin informed his agent that he'd be hanging up the cleats, unless a reunion with his brother in Jacksonville was possible. Now, the veteran is set to work for the NFL Legends Community after a pitch from commissioner Roger Goodell. The program is designed for retired players to mentor current and former players on transitioning out of the game, and into the community.
"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 wrote Wednesday. "A bonus. Plan A was to go to college, get an education and do something that would make a positive impact in the world."