Jimmy Graham had great way of using Rob Gronkowski for motivation
Jimmy Graham was once considered the premier playmaking tight end in the NFL, but then Rob Gronkowski came along. And if you think Graham was unaware when he was on the verge of being de-throned, think again.
When Gronkowski first became a star in the NFL, Graham says he hung the then-New England Patriots tight end’s jersey on the wall in his bedroom. He said it was the only item hanging on the wall at his house. It served as a reminder of how hard Graham needed to work.
“I’ve never told anybody this,” Graham told ESPN’s Mike Triplett. “My first four years in the league, I actually had Gronk’s jersey hanging in my bedroom. I didn’t have a TV hanging in my room, I had Gronk’s jersey hanging in my room. Literally it was the only item I had hanging in my house. So every morning I had to wake up and I knew that I needed to get to work.”
Graham set the single season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2011 when he hit 1,310 with the New Orleans Saints in Week 17. The record stood for mere minutes, as Gronkowski promptly broke it by getting to 1,327 in the Patriots’ blowout win over the Buffalo Bills the same week.
“I would say anybody and everybody needs some kind of a rivalry at some point, at least mentally to push yourself even more. And you know Gronk has always been that for me,” Graham said.
Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in a shocking move back in 2015. He says he finds it “sad” that he didn’t remain in the Saints’ system, as he’ll never really know what he could have accomplished.
Since the trade, Graham has become more of a journeyman. He’s with the Chicago Bears now but is not a significant part of the offensive attack. Gronk, on the other hand, has revived his career and is off to a dominant start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Given the way his and Graham’s career paths have gone, that has to sting for the latter.