Jeff Seidel Detroit Free Press
Published 10:34 PM EDT Oct 28, 2018
There has been so much frightening news lately. Horrible events that can rattle you to the core.
It can make you question everything.
So let’s take a break from the nastiness.
For just a second, let’s focus on a sliver of goodness. One small moment that just might restore your hope in humanity.
Which brings us to one of the best things that happened in Ford Field on Sunday afternoon.
And it certainly didn’t involve the Detroit Lions, who played horribly and lost 28-14 against the Seattle Seahawks.
No, this involved a Seahawks player and a 3-year-old boy from Gibraltar.
His name is Blake Venier, and he was born without a left hand.
“The past six months or a year, he has started to realize he is different,” Deborah Holland, his grandmother, said. “He is coming to the age where he is aware that he is a little bit different. He’ll say, ‘You have two hands, I have one.’ ”
But kids can be cruel, especially when they don’t understand something. And Blake already has experienced it.
“He was teased at the park and kind of hid it behind his back,” Holland said.
But that changed, when Blake learned about Seattle’s Shaquem Griffin, who is one of the best stories in the NFL.
Griffin, a rookie from Central Florida, plays football with only one hand.
“When Shaquem went into the spotlight,” Holland said, “we were like, ‘he’s just like you and you are just like him.’ ”
Holland is a Lions’ season-ticket holder, and she sent a message to the Seahawks through their fan page. She wanted to see whether Blake could meet Griffin.
Blake was going to the game anyway.
And somehow, the request got to the right person, and Seattle was able to grant Blake a field pass before the Lions played the Seahawks.
As Griffin finished his warm-up, one of the Seattle coaches scooped up Blake and took him on the field. Griffin went up to Blake and they fist bumped.
“I told him to live out your dreams,” Griffin said, standing in the Seattle locker room after the game. “Me playing football in the NFL is everything I wanted to do. I wanted to play football. It was one of my dreams. You can live out your dreams if you put your mind to it. I was shaking his hand. He had a hat on. I had to lift his hat up to see his face a little bit.”
Blake was wearing Griffin’s jersey.
“That was so cool,” Griffin said.
Because he is not a star player. There aren’t a lot of Shaquem Griffin jerseys around the NFL. Although maybe there should be.
Griffin has met with several kids around the country, and he always gives the same message.
More: Leave it to Detroit Lions to be outsmarted by Australian rules punter
“I tell them to live out your dreams,” Griffin said. “I meet so many kids who play sports, play basketball. I say, there is no limits.”
Holland has just one regret. She wasn’t allowed to be on the field, so they don’t have a good photo of the meeting.
“People are sending us screen shots,” she said. “I guess he was on TV. He’s all over.”
Blake was thrilled.
“He wants to play football with him,” Holland said, in a phone interview, as she was driving home. “Blake is amazing. He can do anything he sets his mind to. I can’t imagine him any other way.”
“I just talked to Shaquem in the locker room,” I said.
“Is he still there?” Holland said. “We could turn around. We would love a picture.”
“I think they left by now,” I said.
“Bummer,” she said.
But this was one of those moments in which you didn’t need a photo.
Blake has a memory that will last a lifetime.
The day he met somebody just like him.
Contact Jeff Seidel: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.
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