Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin may be a rookie, but his story is already one of the coolest things happening in the young NFL season. He started his first NFL game against Denver last week and is a defensive prospect worth following as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL.
Shaquem Griffin Is the Star of Gillette’s New Campaign
But there’s so much more to the story, and Gillette’s new ad campaign creates a moving illustration of Shaquem’s path to the NFL.
Shaquem, a twin, was born with amniotic band syndrome in his left hand, which left his fingers underdeveloped. By the age of four, the pain became so intense that he had the hand surgically amputated. Despite the disability, Shaquem and his twin brother, Shaquill, emerged as talented athletes who excelled in team sports in hyper-competitive St. Petersburg, Florida.
By the time colleges started recruiting the Griffin brothers, most colleges were only interested in Shaquill. But that wasn’t an option for Shaquill—he had pledged to play with his brother, and he spurned BCS conference offers in order to stick with Shaquem. They ended up at UCF, where both had standout careers. In 2017, the Seattle Seahawks drafted Shaquill in the third round—Shaquill left school a year earlier than Shaquem due to Shaquem’s redshirt year—and waited for his brother to join him in the NFL.
The NFL has never drafted a one-handed player, but Shaquem’s NFL combine—where he used a prosthesis in order to complete the bench press drill—was so impressive that a team snatched him in the fifth round of the draft.
That team just so happened to be Shaquill’s Seattle Seahawks, where the twins were reunited. Gillette’s campaign captures all the emotion involved, including a touching testimonial by their father.
It’s a cool story.
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