Seahawks players and former Central Florida stars Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin described how it felt when former UCF coach George O’Leary forced them to cut their hair.

By Charlotte Carroll
July 18, 2019

Seahawks players and former Central Florida stars Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin joined SI Now on Wednesday and described how personal it felt when former UCF head coach George O’Leary forced them to cut their hair.

The twins were reunited in the NFL when Seattle selected Shaquem in the fifth round in the 2018 NFL draft after Shaquill was drafted the previous year. While they've found success and Shaquem's story has inspired many, the two said their experience with O’Leary made them stronger. 

Shaquill says he thought it was personal when O’Leary asked them to cut their hair. Originally, Shaquill believed the coach didn't want the hair to be shown, so the two folded their hair by using rubber bands to hide it under the helmet. They thought they would be OK under those measures. However, O’Leary said he did not want the hair folded but rather he wanted them to cut it. If they didn't, they wouldn't play.

Shaquem said he wasn't playing at the time, but he was not going to let his brother go through that by himself. The pair went back to the dorms, had their mom on Facetime and cut their hair while everyone was crying. 

They said the hardest part was O’Leary resigning a week later. O’Leary had been with the team since 2004 but resigned in 2015. He was previously accused of racist remarks by a former coach. 

"It was really degrading," Shaquem said. "He pushed us in certain ways that could be unexplainable. It's hard to explain what the reason was behind it. It was very degrading but it made us stronger. ... He can't break both of us when we together." 

Cornerback Shaquill had 54 solo tackles and two interceptions last season. Linebacker Shaquem had eight solo tackles.  

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