The first time I saw Jimmy Graham on the field in black and gold I remember thinking, "Who in the world is this guy?" I figured he was the typical tight end employed by the Saints.
Then...all hell broke loose and the man was flying down the field putting defenders to shame. My next thought revolved around Shockey finding a new job. Graham has served the team well and he's done it with class. You don't hear about legal issues, drug addictions, womanizing, or being a bad guy in general.
As a matter of fact, I think it's safe to say Jimmy Graham has earned a special place in the hearts and minds of Who Dat Nation. His life story played in the background throughout the 2011 season, when he broke out as a threat in the Saints passing attack. While he earned his place at the table last season, he's now enjoying another aspect of being a professional athlete: getting to do cool stuff!
As the Saints have suffered through a turbulent offseason, Jimmy Graham has been reaping the benefits of his faith, drive, and recent success. Making it to the NFL is one thing. Staying in the NFL is a totally different endeavor. Many players succumb to the pitfalls of large paychecks being deposited into their once meager checking accounts. So many times we hear of some highly talented athlete putting themselves in the wrong situation.
Very few times do we hear about a player actually doing something productive with their new found wealth and celebrity status. Luckily for the Saints, that theme does not apply to Jimmy Graham.
After last season, Graham could have chosen to make headlines the wrong way by getting into trouble while his talent would have kept him on the roster. However, Graham chose to get his pilots license instead. This may concern all Saints fans out there, but it's better than some of the stunts we've heard other players pulling. In addition, with how careful he has been with his success I would doubt he's doing barrel rolls or dive bombing cattle.
In fact he flew into the Colorado Rockies over the Fourth of July holiday and he was gracious enough to allow his fans to track his progress. This little blurb can be found on www.thejimmygraham.com which is his official website:
Starting at 6 am ET you can track my live flight path from Tamiami airport through several states into Northern Colorado. I will be flying a six seat, single engine Beechcraft Bonanza G36. The flight altitude will be between 8000 to 12000 feet and there will be 2 or 3 refueling stops depending on how hungry I get. On July 4th fly with me on my cross-country adventure through the Rockies.
On the 4th, you could actually click the link on his website and watch as his little plane flew across the map. I personally thought it was pretty cool because a lot of athletes don't let you get a glimpse of their personal lives. So congratulations, Mr. Graham. As you've recently discovered the sky was the limit. Now what's next?
Just so you know he landed safely in Colorado and encountered only slight weather issues. If he posts his return flight, I'll try to have a story beforehand.