Maybe you call him "Money Graham" or "Golden Graham" or maybe you're super obnoxious like me and you say his name like that South Park character Timmy every time he touches the ball ... "Jimmmmaaaaaaaaaay!" Whatever your preference, there is no doubt that if you're a Saints fan, or just a fan of raw NFL talent, you can't get enough of Drew Brees' new go-to-guy.
Tight end Jimmy Graham has quickly made a name for himself around the league. Maybe it's because he plays with an intensity that seems to channel the spirit of bad boys past like Kyle Turley or even his predecessor, Jeremy Shockey. Maybe it's because he makes up for every dropped ball with a clutch catch that puts his team in a position to win. Or maybe it's that darn, awesomely weird, red hair. Whatever it is, fans and sports analysts alike are just wild about Jimmy.
If you don't know much about him, it's time to learn. You'll be plenty hearing about this new-school talent with old-school passion soon.
Here's how the USA Today recently summed up Graham's ability:
Graham's athleticism -- including 4.53 speed and a 38½- inch vertical jump -- make him a matchup nightmare for defenses, particularly in the red zone where his leaping ability gives him a decided advantage. Against linebackers, he is a load and nearly unstoppable in one-on-one coverage.
And of course, there is the true sign that you've "made it," when ESPN's Chris Berman bothers to give you a nickname. The ever-clever Boomer recently came up with this gem: "The Graham Reaper."
When you look at his stats, it's no wonder this 95th pick in the NFL draft a year ago is now a pro bowl favorite and fantasy league phenom. Graham leads the league in yardage and is in the top 3 for receptions and touchdowns. He's also averaging more than 15 yards a catch. In just 2 seasons with the Saints, he's become Drew Brees' biggest target, a tall order when you consider all the weapons Drew has to play with. But it's not just stats that define this top tight end. He's got some serious swag! He flexes at his opponents after big plays. He's prone to outbursts and trash talk on the field. And in his sophomore year in the league, he appears to have the confidence of an old pro.
Maybe it's Graham's humble beginnings that make him so tough. He's a child of the foster system who admits he often cried himself to sleep, lonely and hungry. He was adopted as a teenager and went on to play basketball for the Miami Hurricanes. Thankfully for Saints fans like me, his passion switched to football in his senior year and he used his long, lean build to bully opponents on the field, just as he did on the court.
So what can we expect from Graham? According to his teammate Drew Brees, "the sky's the limit." So long as there is a Super Bowl (or 2) along the way, that's just fine by me.
This article was originally published on the female football fan site Chicks in the Huddle.