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Shaquem Griffin only had one hand but more heart than any player in UCF history | Commentary

Running off at the typewriter …

Shaquem Griffin did not make it in the NFL, but he made it TO the NFL.

And that’s why he will go down as one of the most respected, revered players in college football history.

When he announced his retirement from football on Wednesday, I really didn’t think about all the plays he made as a linebacker at UCF; I thought much more about all the lives he impacted.

He may have only one hand, but, my God, Shaquem has more heart than any athlete I’ve ever covered. He not only made history when he became the first player with one hand to ever be drafted into the modern-day NFL, he became an international role model to millions of amputees across the planet.

Even though Shaquem was the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and was the Peach Bowl Defensive MVP in the monumental victory over Auburn during his senior season, he originally didn’t get invited to the NFL’s annual scouting combine in 2018. The league only acquiesced because of immense public pressure and because Shaquem begged the league to let him come. He responded by putting on a prosthetic left hand and bench-pressing 225 pounds 20 times. Then he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash — the fastest time any linebacker had run in 15 years.

By the time UCF’s Pro Day rolled around in 2018, the national media was all over the story. The NFL Network had a camera crew at UCF and ESPN had two camera crews.

Quite honestly, I can’t recall many of the plays Shaquem made during his brilliant college career or his short-lived NFL stint, but I will always remember the smile on 13-year-old Annika Emmert’s face that afternoon four years ago as she watched her hero perform at UCF’s Pro Day.

Annika was born with the same congenital birth defect as Shaquem and wore a prosthetic on her right arm. She had driven down with her family from St. Augustine in hopes of meeting Shaquem. As you would expect, Shaquem not only met with her, he embraced her and spent several minutes talking to her.

“Meeting him in person was so much fun and so special,” Annika said that day. “His motto is ‘Against all odds.’ I follow him on social media and every time he posts something, he always ends it with the hashtag #AgainstAllOdds. Everything he does is an inspiration to someone like me. What he’s done and what he can do is amazing. … If he can do it, I can do it.”

No doubt about it — Shaquem Griffin will be remembered partly for the quarterbacks he sacked and the tackles he made, but he will mostly be remembered for the millions he inspired. …

Short stuff: The new Florida Gators team photo caused quite a stir among social media critics who were blasting the Gators for having more staff members in the photo (140) than players (116). I’m not saying that new coach Billy Napier’s staff is bloated with unnecessary personnel, but do the grad assistants really need grad assistants? My operatives within the program tell me that Napier not only has a coffee coordinator, he has separate cream and sugar coordinators as well! But, ahem, the schools can’t afford to pay the players and instead are begging the boosters to foot the bill for NIL compensation. … Tom Brady is back at Tampa Bay Bucs training camp, but he is still ducking the media. He hasn’t answered questions since he was implicated in the tampering scandal involving Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. When it comes to dealing with controversy, it seems, the G.O.A.T. is as quiet as a lamb. …

Did you want to puke as much as I did a few days ago when Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam tried to justify quarterback Deshaun Watson’s 11-game suspension by saying, “I think in this country, and hopefully in the world, people deserve second chances.” It’s one thing to get a second chance; it’s quite another thing that Haslam rewarded Watson with an unprecedented guaranteed contract worth $232 million. The Cleveland Clowns strike again. … By the way, I also saw where Watson has to undergo counseling treatments in light of the sexual-misconduct allegations made by the dozens of female massage therapists. May I recommend that he see a doctor of creepology. …

From David Whitley of the Gainesville Sun: “Defrocked Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt finished an impressive 23rd out of 415 entries in his first World Series of Poker event. Expect NCAA investigators to charge him with illegally recruiting the blackjack dealer.” … Fox Sports quietly announced they are re-hiring Urban Meyer by utilizing a picture-perfect Friday afternoon news dump designed so that Fox’s decision to bring back Meyer as a college football analyst would get lost in the weekend shuffle. My question for Fox executives: If you’re so embarrassed about hiring Meyer that you really don’t want anybody to know about it, then why are you hiring him in the first place? …

Poor Scott Frost just can’t catch a break. The former golden-boy UCF coach who is now on the hot seat at Nebraska got barbecued again last week when he jokingly said Nebraska’s new offensive line coach Donovan Raiola is working his boys so hard that the linemen were vomiting “15 or 20 times” per practice. Vomiting during practice used to symbolize hard work, but now it symbolizes player abuse. And even though Frost was obviously joking, he had to walk back the comments after a firestorm on social media. Reason No. 945 why Frosty should have stayed at UCF. … Speaking of UCF, I have a prediction: New Knights starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee will account for more total yardage this season than former Knights quarterback Dillon Gabriel accounts for at Oklahoma. …

Fear not, NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman says he is going to Russia in order to negotiate the release of Brittney Griner? If the Worm could somehow pull it off, they should also put him in the WNBA Hall of Fame, not to mention awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize for Diplomacy. … From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The Trail Blazers will not send their TV or radio broadcasters on road trips, instead having them announce games from home. There you have it — the NBA season’s first non-traveling call.” … Can we get a standing ovation for Brooklyn Nets management for actually having the audacity to stare down a bratty NBA superstar (Kevin Durant) and force him to come crawling back. It almost makes me want to root for the Nets this season, but not quite. …

Last word: “He was always under control. I said to him once, ‘Leonard, make sure that you never let them see you sweat.’ And he said, ‘Coach, quarterbacks don’t sweat. Quarterbacks perspire.’” — Late great Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram on iconic Chiefs quarterback Len “Lenny The Cool” Dawson, who passed away Wednesday at 87.

Email me at Hit me up on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6 to 9:30 a.m. on FM 96.9, AM 740 and HD 101.1-2


Source: Berkshire mont

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