Former UCF star linebacker Shaquem Griffin is retiring from professional football, he announced Wednesday in a first-person article published in The Players’ Tribune.
Griffin was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks where he reunited with his twin brother and former Knight Shaquill Griffin.
“Honestly, it’s still a little surreal,” Griffin wrote online. “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.
“But I know the positive effect I’m having on others,” he added. “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.”
Shaquem, who’s inspired countless people across the country by overcoming the ability to play football with one hand, played in 46 career games during his three years in Seattle.
At UCF, he led the Knights on defense to an undefeated season in 2017 capped with a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl. In that game, Griffin was named Defensive MVP after recording a season-high 12 tackles, a season-high 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
After three years in Seattle, Griffin was cut by the Seahawks before returning to the team’s practice squad. Following the 2020 season, Shaquill signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars while Shaquem joined the Miami Dolphins.
Ahead of the ‘21 season, however, Miami released Shaquem. According to Griffin, he worked out for the Cardinals, the Titans and the Jets, and then got calls from Buffalo, Dallas and Atlanta but ultimately decided he only wanted to play with his brother again.
Griffin wrote that he had thought about retiring but the idea didn’t become solid until he was invited to brunch with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during Super Bowl week this past February in Los Angeles.
Goodell invited Griffin to join the NFL Legends Community which is a program through which retired players help mentor current and former players on everything from the transition into and out of the game to how to navigate mental health issues, according to Griffin.
Griffin explained that once the conversation shifted away from football and to helping communities in need, he knew he had to say yes.
“And I was thinking, ‘these are the kinds of conversations I want to be a part of,’” Griffin wrote. “That experience and that invitation from the commissioner locked me in and led me to the decision I had to make.
“The time has come for me to retire from professional football.”
Email Jason Beede at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @therealBeede.