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Shaquem Griffin is the most malleable player in the NFL



ARLINGTON, Texas – The NFL Draft's Best Choice will stand around on Thursday night, watching as all the other players out there are selected.

He will almost certainly be last in the green space, which is usually the sign of failure and disgrace. He will see that the first graders get the call, get their congratulations and get big hugs from the commissioner.

And he'll wait until Friday, maybe even Saturday, until a team is smart enough to take him. [19659004] Shaquem Griffin (left) participates in an NFL Draft event in Frisco, Texas with Mason Rudolph (center) and Josh Allen. (19659005) Shaquem Griffin (left) participates in an NFL Draft event in Frisco, Texas with Mason Rudolph (center) and Josh Allen. (19659006) Shaquem Griffin of UCF (left) participates in an NFL Draft event in Frisco, Texas, with Mason Rudolph (center) of Oklahoma State and Wyoming's Josh Allen. (AP)

Shaquem Griffin does not mind. A few months ago, the undersized linebacker was snubbed by the scouting combine before an invitation was extended. Just a few years ago, he worked in tow with his father all summer, pushing cars in the heat of Florida, watching his twin brother Shaquill experience his footballing dream on the UCF campus.

now? Shaquill and Shaquem recently passed through a mall in Florida when someone asked Shaquill, a cornerback with the Seattle Seahawks, to take a picture of him and Shaquem. After posing together, the fan politely asked the NFL starter, "Which school are you going to?"

"I had to go and start laughing," Shaquem said Wednesday.

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Even this brother had his doubts. When Shaquem told him what he would do with the 40-meter combine, Shaquill said, "You're too fat to do it."

Shaquem ran a 4.38, which he said he would run. Shaquill blasted his cell phone with "I'm so proud of you!", But failed to mention the "fat" comment.

Griffin is a first round talent who probably dropped out of the first round because he has a hand. What he lacks in this one sense, he more than compensates for speed, strength, will, football ingenuity and total strength of personality. Whatever team designs it, the Griffin jerseys will be seen flying off the shelves. He is a celebrity on hold, as he showed on Wednesday, when he entertained a throng of Play60 children and then a group of media that included a Chinese reporter with questions from Mickey Mouse to Scott Frost.

"Scott Frost is as magical as Mickey," Griffin joked, as if he had thought of the answer before the question was asked. He flashed his slight smile and everyone laughed.

The man is more than a draft picker. That's why he's here, already a NFL face, even before he gets into the league. He's here to watch as others are drafted in front of him and are still the top story of the weekend. The children of Play60, who gathered here for selfies and exercises, did not look at Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold; it was Griffin who drew his eyes out. He had a grin and a high-five for everyone, sitting right in front of the group photo as if he were a Manning brother and not a 3-in-1. Then the media rushed in and the first question was whether he saw any future NFLs in the children's group. To the point, Griffin said, "Many of them were girls."

The NFL could not have made a better story. Now known worldwide, his hand was amputated when he was a kid, and he continued to lead UCF into an undefeated season. He was repeatedly downgraded, most brutally when Shaquill was selected to start and play with the UCF team, while Shaquem had to go to St. Petersburg before his third season and help his father in the train station.

Almost every conscript has a story out of nowhere, but Griffin tells it so well, and it's a story that can be linked to someone who knows someone with a disability.

"I can do whatever I want," he said. "I did not see anything I could not do, I'll never let anyone put a label on me."

When USF coach Charlie Strong used the word "handicap" to describe Griffin's missing hand the linebacker's furore and became a lesson for many people two teams. Stark, who could use the term as a means of praise, later apologized for the choice of words.

"I do not have a chip on my shoulder," Griffin said Wednesday. Anyone else can have a chip, I need more than that. "

The thrill and risk of the design is that anything can and will happen. There will be a Peyton Manning and there will be a Ryan Leaf. There will be injuries and misfires, the unexpected and the unexplained. It is football. Griffin could be a Hall of Famer or a member of the League in a year's time. But Griffin brings fans who do not care if he plays linebacker or rush end. The moral of the story is already there, only cemented by the reaction when it makes its first attack and, yes, its first interception. Maybe it's not the right football for your team, but it fits into any NFL city.

"My name is Shaquem Griffin and I play football," he said. "You can say I have a hand and look what you want, I play football at the end of the day."

After the assigned interview time on Wednesday, players were taken off the pitch and most media followed. But there was Griffin, still surrounded by cameras and microphones, still grinning, still talking. At some point in the next few days, maybe alone with him in the dreaded green room, he'll get that call from an NFL team.

"I hope I do not cry too much," he said, "and people see snot in my nose."

Many people will cry with him.

Shaquem Griffin slaps Auburn's Jarrett Stidham in the Peach Bowl. (AP)

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