Former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin – who the NFL called “a true inspiration” – officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday.
Griffin is the only one-handed player in NFL history, having lost his left hand at the age of four due to a prenatal condition, according to the NFL website.
“The time has come for me to retire from professional football,” Griffin said in a statement released on The Players’ Tribune.
“Honestly, it’s still a little surreal. After everything I’ve been through in my life – all the hard work, all the doubters – it’s almost unthinkable that I’m hangin’ it up and moving on from the game of football,” Griffin added.
The 27-year-old free agent said that while he is walking away from his career as a player, he is not leaving the league.
Instead, he recently accepted an offer from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to join the NFL Legends Community – a league-run program where veterans help current and former players transition into and out of the game.
“It’s a resource to provide guidance and support to players in whatever they might be going through or trying to achieve, including assisting with community service initiatives,” Griffin said.
“It’s time for me to execute my Plan A. I know the positive effect I’m having on others. I’m speaking at colleges and universities, talking to football teams and even presenting to corporate America about never doubting yourself and tirelessly pursuing your dreams.
“People at companies want to hear what I have to say when actually I’m the one that can learn so much from them. It’s crazy,” he added.
Griffin first caught the attention of the league at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, when he sprinted a 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, which placed first among linebackers present in Indianapolis at the time.
The University of Central Florida recruit was subsequently drafted in the fifth round to the Seattle Seahawks, a year after the team picked his twin brother Shaquill Griffin in the third round.
After playing 46 games across three seasons, Griffin joined the Miami Dolphins as a free agent but was cut before the 2021 season.
He unsuccessfully tried out for numerous other teams and later told his agent that unless he had the opportunity to play alongside his brother at the Jacksonville Jaguars, he did not want to play in the league.
“I know a lot of people might not understand that approach. There are so many guys out there working hard, just hoping for an opportunity, any opportunity, and here I am limiting them. Believe me, I get it. But you have to understand something about me,” Griffin said. “Football was always Plan B.
“My dad used to tell me and my brother that. 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. A bonus. Plan A was to go to college, get an education and do something that would make a positive impact in the world,” he added.
Figures from across the football world paid tribute to Griffin’s career.
“A true inspiration on the field. A better person off of it. Your story will be remembered for generations,” the Seattle Seahawks tweeted.
“True Legend,” his brother Shaquill posted.
“Shaquem Griffin showed the world anything is possible at the 2018 Combine,” the NFL said. “A true inspiration. Congrats on your retirement, @Shaquemgriffin.”