Every year, the NFL Combine provides us with an example of athletes performing superhuman feats of power and strength, in pursuit of a career in the NFL.
But it’s not every year that the NFL gives us this.
Meet Shaquem Griffin. He’s a jack-of-all-trades defensive player from the University of Central Florida, who became a late invite to the NFL Combine. With his ability to play multiple positions, there’s not much missing from Griffin’s arsenal.
Well, that is, except for his left hand.
On Saturday, the one-handed defender put on a prosthetic hand and put on quite a show, during the bench press:
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) March 3, 2018
Amazingly, Griffin’s previous best was 11 reps of 225 pounds. Meaning, Griffin nearly doubled his personal best at the combine. However, his output on Saturday was more than three times what Griffin had set out to do at the beginning of the competition.
“My goal was six,” Griffin said.
Griffin credited much of his success to the support he received from the cheering crowd.
“Everybody in the stands was hyping me up. I got the guys I’m here with hyping me up. It felt amazing,” Griffin explained. “I was ready to go. I was ready to attack it.
“I said, this thing feels like 135. Let’s go! And I just started cranking them out.”
The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock described what it was like to watch Griffin overcome adversity.
“I got chill bumps watching him do 20 reps. I literally choked up a little bit watching him do that and I can’t wait to watch him tomorrow.”
Griffin had his left hand surgically amputated when he was four years old. Born with a congenital birth defect known as amniotic band syndrome, Griffin suffered extreme pain whenever his fingers came into contact with anything.
One day, Griffin’s mother found him in the kitchen attempting to cut his fingers off, due to the extreme pain he was experiencing. After that incident, his mother decided to have doctors remove his hand.
Griffin was surprised by the size of the group of reporters who gathered around him at the end of his workout on Saturday, “I thought I was going to walk over here and it was going to be like three people.”
Griffin told reporters, “It was amazing, hearing the crowd and having the juices flowing, I mean I felt it. I didn’t know I had it in me.
“I always hold myself to a higher standard than a lot of people just because if we’re running drills, if I drop a ball, they’re going to like, ‘Well, he dropped the ball because he has one hand.’ If anybody else drops a ball, they’re going to be like, ‘Well, maybe it was a bad ball.’”
According to Fox News, “As a freshman, [Griffin] couldn’t even lift the 45-pound bar, but then he was fitted with the prosthethic and his mom cried when he did his first pull-up.”
That journey, from not being able to lift the bar, to doing 20 reps of 225, was not lost on Griffin.
“It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come from not being able to bench the bar to throwing up 20 reps of 225 and being able to compete with the best here.
“I feel like I could just start curling 225 right now and I’m pretty sure come tomorrow, it’s going to be adrenalin just going crazy. I’m excited about tomorrow. If I feel this good doing the bench press, I can’t wait to see how I am tomorrow.”
Griffin believes that his story can inspire other kids to achieve.
“If I can inspire one, and they can inspire another and (soon we’ll) inspire a thousand.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn