If you know anything about football, you know all too well that All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham is an absolute workhorse. He’s overcome numerous setbacks–both on the field and off–to become one of the NFL’s most dominant offensive players. But it wasn’t ever easy, and his aggressive attitude shows that hard work pays off. That’s why he’s teamed up with Degree to show everyone that the best way to improve is to “Do:More.”
Jimmy took the time out of his very busy schedule to talk to us about his team, his basketball skills, and what he does to stay in shape.
Unfortunately Jimmy wasn’t able to join us at the Degree Combine due to his injuries, but to see our participation in the combine, check the bottom for a video.
What’s the best way to respond to a physical cheap shot?
100% by the way you play. Personally I’m the type of player and the type of guy where if someone challenges me like that, it just makes me play even harder. It’s really the teams that come up to me and say, “Hey man great route” those are the guys who get me energized. How I play best is with pure emotion.
What’s it like playing with a guy like Drew Brees?
He’s a leader on and off the field. If I could rewind on back to my rookie year, I was a basketball player. My first OTA after getting done, Drew talked to me about Antonio Gates and how he was with him when he first started. And he was telling me “you’re further along then he was, I’m telling you that you’re going to be his caliber of player. You’re going to be his kind of player. You just have to work with me every day.” You know, I’m a young player so to have someone like Drew Brees come to you every day and stay after practice and make you get better, it gives you so much confidence.
I’ve been telling him for the past two week, “Lead us to greatness.” That’s what he does best. He’s such a leader out there–not just for the offense, for the defense and special teams. The team feeds off the way he plays and how he leads us. There’s no body that’s more of a professional than he is. Every week he does the exact same things, he literally will go and pick the same weight he picked up a week before. He’s a perfectionist. It makes you want to be just like him. It makes you want to do more.
Speaking of “Do:More” do you still play any ball?
Yeah I play a little bit. The issue with me is that I’m so aggressive. I was always a really aggressive basketball player. I’m 6’7″ and people now recognize me, and so guys come at me harder. I want to go and play nice and take shots, but inevitably someone fouls me which causes me to dunk on you, and then I get reckless. So the focus for me in the offseason is pure training for football.
What do you do in the offseason to train?
My training regiment is very strict. I take three weeks off after the season, and then I start training at the University of Miami. Jonathon Vilma, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and past players are always in and out of there and we all train together Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Wednesday I do yoga. I pretty much do that until the season starts.
Yoga makes you pretty flexible–a flexibility you showed a few weeks ago when you leaped over Roman Harper. What’s going through your head on a play like that?
You’re just trying to make a play for your team. I ended up coming open on a crossing route, and when you turn around it’s all reaction. I’m running full speed and I notice that he’s going to throw everything he has at my knees. I just at the last second jumped–there’s no time to think with that one. And with Roman, he’s a big guy. I knew I had to get up on that one.
Did your coaches tell you to take it easy a little bit with your shoulder? What’s their reaction after a play like that?
Sean was pretty fired up. He knows that when I’m playing with that kind of energy and when I’m being that aggressive only good things can happen. He encourages me because he knows I’m going to be smart.
I know that you’re big on flying. Tell me more about this inner-city pilot program Angel Flight you’re a part of.
I’m a pilot, I’m really into it. I do a lot of flying all the time, and it’s a major passion for me. I’ve linked up with this organization called Angel Flight and what it does is it allows me to give my time as a pilot and also my plane and help transport children to facilities where they can get health care.
For example a burn victim or cancer patient who needs treatment in another state, I will give my plane and time as a pilot to fly them to a location. Obviously that’s tremendously rewarding for me, but for a kid who can’t help what situation they’re in, they need it. I’m there for them. My first official flight is at the end of the season. I’ve been with Angel Flight for over a year now and I’ve been able to donate but after all the paperwork is done, I’m scheduled to fly right where the season ends. I’m excited.