Why did Shaquem Griffin retire? Trailblazing linebacker calls it a career, will join NFL Legend Program, give back to community

Shaquem Griffin has done all of that throughout his football career. The former Seahawks linebacker overcame amputation of his left hand at the age of four to become a UCF All-American. He turned that into a fifth-round pick and a four-year NFL career.

However, this career is coming to an end. The 27-year-old announced his intention to retire in an article published in the Player’s Tribune Wednesday morning, citing his commitment to the NFL Legends Community, a program that provides support to NFL retirees and at the same time connecting with different communities across the country.

Griffin detailed his interaction with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who asked Griffin to be part of the Legends program.

I’m having brunch with the inspector at this fancy hotel and he tells me he’d like me to be part of the Legends program. I look around the room and I see all these vets – these old school legends that have always been around – and I think, Man I’m 27. I would be the youngest legend in the room.

And then I knew I had to say yes when I was sitting with the commissioner and a couple of other guys and we were just talking about football, rule changes – regular stuff. Then the conversation shifted. We started talking about what is happening on the streets of Chicago and how these communities are suffering. The guys started spreading ideas about how we could help. How we could maybe improve people’s lives and make a real positive impact.

And I thought, These are the kinds of conversations I want to be a part of.

I had made my mind up before, but this experience and this invitation from the Commissioner captivated me and led to the decision I had to make.

It’s about time I retired from professional football.

Griffin is a pioneer. He made history as the first single-hander drafted in the modern era of the NFL. His hand was amputated when he was four years old due to a condition called amniotic band syndrome that prevented his hand from developing normally.

Here’s everything you need to know about Griffin’s upcoming retirement.

MORE: Seahawks LB Shaquem Griffin is more than a ‘feel good story’

Why did Shaquem Griffin retire?

Griffin’s retirement comes after a hectic few years for the UCF graduate. Griffin spent his first three seasons in Seattle playing with identical twin Shaquill. Griffin didn’t see much time on the field during his tenure with the ‘Hawks, but taking to the field with his brother was his oasis, the fulfillment of the twins’ childhood dream.

In 2020, that dream has been changed forever; Griffin was released by the Seahawks. He hopped from team to team and eventually joined the Dolphins. But without Shaquill – who signed with the Jags as free agency – Griffin felt the love he had for the game was beginning to wane.

Coming from St. Petersburg, I was glad to be back in Florida. But everything felt different in Miami. I was still the same player – energetic, happy, always working. But something was missing.

And looking back on it now, I think my brother was missing.

Griffin tried again after being cut by Miami in 2021. He received requests from a number of teams and trained with the Cardinals, Titans and Jets. But Griffin was ready to let go.

But after that Jets workout, I realized something. All the traveling, training for teams, trying to get a foothold, trying to persevere – it wasn’t what I wanted. Football had already given me so much and the only thing I really wanted from the game was to play with my brother again.

So I said to my agent, Buddy Baker, thank you for grinding and giving me these opportunities. But unless it’s Jacksonville, I’m fine.

The one-on-one meeting between Griffin and Goodell sealed the deal; Goodell ensured Griffin would be part of a program that will transform the lives of countless former NFL players and the communities they came from.

What is the NFL Legends Community?

The NFL Legends Community is a program aimed at providing resources to NFL retirees as they transition into life after football.

“The NFL Legends community works to ensure that each Legend has the best possible opportunity to live a fulfilling life following their playing experience,” said Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations.

The program helps ex-professionals get involved in a range of ventures after retirement, including entrepreneurship, scouting and coaching.

Its members include former All-Pro cornerback Charles Tillman and Hall of Famer Aenas Williams, who co-hosts a podcast with Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Logan Ryan.

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