In writing the GFL series, I wanted to find a way to keep the gridiron game real, as close to what we see on TV despite the fact that the stories are set 700 years in the future. What about bionic muscles? What about reinforced skeletons? What about souped-up scifi performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)? What about cybernetic optics, computer-assisted decision making, HUDs pouring out stats on the opposing players, etc.?
To get around these complications and to feature the on-field battles between un-augmented individuals of multiple races, the GFL features a strict “No Modifications” policy. Players may not use artificial means to modify their bodies: no performance-enhancing nanotech, no cybernetics, no PEDs … no nothing.
Players do benefit from far-future medical technology. Anything that will fix up a player and get him or her back on the field is considered acceptable, as long as it heals the natural body and doesn’t add any modifying technology.
So, you get some players continuing their career despite catastrophic damage to limbs, hands, and more. As long as you can play ball at a high level, the people in the GFL don’t give a good gosh-darn about any handicaps. Prosthetics for those who are missing a limb? Nope. That still counts as a “mod” and is not allowed.
That’s why it was so cool to read about the success of Shaquem Griffin. Shaquem — who was featured in the recent Nike/Colin Kaepernick “Dream Crazy” ad — has only one hand. He is the first one-handed player to be drafted in the modern NFL area*.
Shaquem plays the position of weak-side linebacker, or WLB (follow this link for more info on WLBs and linebackers in general). WLBs are often responsible for pass coverage, so they have to be fast. Shaquem certainly is. They are also called upon to tackle, and knock down or intercept passes. One would think you’d need two hands for those duties, but Shaquem seems to do just fine with one.
Despite what seems a significant handicap, Shaquem finished an exceptional collegiate career for the University of South Florida, and was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks. Griffin was the 141st overall pick in the 2018 draft.
The video above is an ESPN tear-jerker covering Shaquem’s rise to the pros. For some seriously awesome highlights of his collegiate career with USF, check out this YouTube video. And for his first regular-season pro game, here are his highlights (they are brief, but he was in there!).
* The Boston Yanks drafted Ellis Jones in the eighth round of the 1945 draft. Jones was a two-way player at Tulsa, at offensive guard and linebacker, and made a college all-star team that squared off against the 1943 NFL champion Chicago Bears. At age 11, he fell from a tree and suffered a compound fracture of his right arm. Gangrene set in, resulting in an amputation eight inches below the shoulder (stat courtesy of NFL.com)..
This post is sponsored by Audible Free Trial offer, which will give you an audiobook for free as part of a no-risk 30-day trial of the audible service. Like football stories? Check out the “space opera” meets American Football novel THE ROOKIE, Book I of the Galactic Football League, or check out THE REAL ALL-AMERICANS, a non-fiction tale about the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which dominated the Ivy League in the early 1910s.