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Shayne Graham details mistakes learned from leaving Bengals

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This is pretty interesting to hear from a former Bengals player and his advice should be spread far and wide.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Last week, former Bengals kicker Shayne Graham announced his retirement from the NFL.

Graham's best years were spent in Cincinnati where he was the team's kicker from 2003 to 2009. Following the 2009 season, Graham did not re-sign with the Bengals upon becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Now, Graham is opening up on lessons learned from his time in the NFL and the mistakes he made.

“I at least know I learned from my mistakes,” Graham told Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson of his departure from Cincinnati. “I can be proud and feel very blessed and fortunate with the opportunities I got in the first place.

Before landing with the Bengals, Graham spent time with the Saints, Seahawks, Bills and Panthers. None of those stints were all too successful. Following his time with the Bengals, he spent time with the Ravens, Giants, Patriots, Redskins, Cowboys, Dolphins, Ravens again, Texans, Browns, Steelers, Saints again and ended his career with the Falcons as an injury replacement when Matt Bryant got hurt in 2015. The Falcons parted ways with Graham during final roster cuts in September 2016 and he hasn't played on an NFL team since.

“I started buying into what I was being told about how much money I could be making and all that stuff when I've come to realize that being part of a family and being part of a system that had the support around me and having things where money wasn’t really the important thing,” Graham said. “When you let those things drive your emotions and the emotional decisions you make, it doesn’t always end up being the best thing for you.”

It’s pretty interesting to hear Graham open up in this way. Quite often in the NFL, players chase the best contract offer, as Graham suggests, but it doesn’t always work out. Graham never found as good a fit with any other team as he had in Cincinnati. In fact, he didn’t come close.

Shayne Graham NFL Stats

Season Team G GS Blk Lng FG Att FGM Pct XP Att XPM Pct Blk KO Avg TB Ret Avg
Season Team G GS Blk Lng FG Att FGM Pct XP Att XPM Pct Blk KO Avg TB Ret Avg
2015 Atlanta Falcons 5 0 1 54 13 11 84.6 8 8 100 0 -- -- -- -- --
2014 New Orleans Saints 16 0 0 50 22 19 86.4 47 46 97.9 1 2 10 0 0 --
2013 New Orleans Saints 2 0 0 40 2 2 100 7 7 100 0 -- -- -- -- --
2013 Pittsburgh Steelers 0 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2012 Houston Texans 16 0 1 51 38 31 81.6 45 45 100 0 91 63 28 61 25.9
2011 Baltimore Ravens 1 0 0 48 2 2 100 2 2 100 0 5 58.8 0 5 22.6
2011 Miami Dolphins 2 0 0 28 5 4 80 6 6 100 0 11 65.1 1 10 20.1
2010 New England Patriots 8 0 0 41 12 12 100 37 35 94.6 0 57 61.4 2 55 21.8
2010 New York Giants 1 0 0 0 0 0 -- 4 4 100 0 5 60.2 1 4 26
2009 Cincinnati Bengals 16 0 2 53 28 23 82.1 29 28 96.6 1 69 63.3 8 58 22.2
2008 Cincinnati Bengals 14 0 0 45 24 21 87.5 15 15 100 0 52 63.2 8 42 22
2007 Cincinnati Bengals 16 0 0 48 34 31 91.2 37 37 100 0 86 61.7 8 75 22.8
2006 Cincinnati Bengals 16 0 0 51 30 25 83.3 42 40 95.2 1 84 63.9 13 70 21
2005 Cincinnati Bengals 16 0 0 49 32 28 87.5 47 47 100 0 91 60.2 2 85 21
2004 Cincinnati Bengals 16 0 0 53 31 27 87.1 41 41 100 0 82 60.5 2 79 19.6
2003 Cincinnati Bengals 16 0 0 48 25 22 88 40 40 100 0 77 62.2 4 71 20.7
2002 Carolina Panthers 11 0 1 50 18 13 72.2 21 21 100 0 5 66 0 5 21
2001 Buffalo Bills 6 0 0 41 8 6 75 7 7 100 0 21 55.5 0 21 18
TOTAL 5 54 324 277 85.5 435 429 98.6 3 738 61.8 77 641 21.6

“One of the great regrets I have in my career is that I didn’t realize how good I had it in Cincinnati,” Graham said. “There was a time I fooled myself into thinking there were other things more important than what they were. I lost grasp of what true reality was. When I look back on it I feel like I could have been there a lot longer if I made different decisions. But think it made me a better person, made me a better professional.”

This is a lesson that every free agent-to-be should see or be told before hitting the open market in March.