O’Neil: Even if emotion played a role, it will be easy to root for Seahawks’ twins Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin

Apr 28, 2018, 5:34 PM | Updated: Apr 30, 2018, 6:45 am
Shaquill Griffin...
Shaquem Griffin joined his brother Shaquill as member of the Seahawks on Saturday. (AP)

RENTON – There isn’t a Seahawk player I’ll ever root for more than Shaquem Griffin, the linebacker Seattle chose out of Central Florida in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.

Full list of Seahawks, WSU and UW picks | NFL Draft home

That’s odd in only one respect: I didn’t necessarily think the Seahawks should draft him.

Don’t get me wrong. I wanted him to be a Seahawk. I just worried that feeling was based more on emotion than the cold, hard business decisions that the best franchises make.

When you make personnel decisions too personal in the NFL, you’re more vulnerable to making mistakes.

I worried I was being overly sentimental to think the Seahawks should choose the one-handed linebacker from Central Florida who just so happened to be the twin brother of Shaquill Griffin, the cornerback the Seahawks drafted in the third round a year ago.

Let me be very clear: I love the fact that the Seahawks drafted Shaquem Griffin. I can’t remember being this excited to see a player – not just because it’s unprecedented to have a player reach the NFL despite missing a left hand. I want to see whether the Griffin twins will become the emotional leaders on a defense that has lost so much of its personality in the past 12 months.

Football players often talk about playing for their brothers. Well, these two guys will literally be doing that in Seattle as the Griffins will be reunited after the only year they spent apart in their lives.

The Griffins went to Central Florida as a package deal, something that former UCF coach George O’Leary recognized from the beginning. The University of Miami had offered a scholarship to Shaquill, but not to his brother. O’Leary said he wouldn’t recruit just one of them and in fact only wanted both. They became stars at Central Florida, Shaquill entering the draft last year while Shaquem returned for his senior year.

It wasn’t up to the Griffins this time around. One team had to feel so strongly about each brother that it would choose him before the other 31 teams who are equally determined to choose the best football players.

There have been plenty of brothers to play in the NFL. There were two brothers chosen in the first round this year – linebacker Tremaine Edwards Edmunds was picked by Buffalo while older brother Terrell was picked later in the first round by Pittsburgh. There have even been brothers drafted by the same team as the Titans chose receiver Kevin Dyson in the first round in 1998 and selected his younger brother Andre, a cornerback, in the second round three years later.

In this case, it’s twins. This isn’t just a feel-good story, but something that should make everyone feel great.

In fact, the emotional pull was so strong that I tried to resist it because of the number of times I’ve seen emotions lead to problematic decision. Or have you forgotten Ken Griffey Jr.’s final year in town? Or the $5 million raise the Seahawks gave to Marshawn Lynch when he still had a year left on his contract? Or the contract Felix Hernandez is currently pitching on?

The best business decisions don’t always feel good. In fact, they frequently hurt. Especially when it comes to building a sports team.

So I worried I felt too strongly about Shaquem to have an objective view of his value as a potential draft pick. It’s not like I know the family or anything. I’ve interviewed Shaquill a couple of times and not only seen, but felt, the undeniable charisma that he has. I also watched Shaquem not just play, but excel in his team’s bowl-game victory over Auburn.

Everything about what I’ve seen told me that the Seahawks should pick Shaquem. But everything I’ve learned about emotions in sports also told me that’s precisely the type of mistake you make when you get too emotionally invested in a specific outcome.

So I stopped short of rooting for the Seahawks to draft Shaquill’s twin brother right up until the very moment the Seahawks picked him. Then I started thinking about just how awesome it’s going to be to cheer on this story.

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O’Neil: Even if emotion played a role, it will be easy to root for Seahawks’ twins Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin