Shayne Graham has signed a one-day contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, allowing him to retire with the with whom he team he spent most of his professional career.
The Bengals announced Tuesday that they are assisting Graham in sending a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, declaring that the longtime kicker is ceremonially “retiring as a Bengal.”
“Cincinnati means a lot to me; it still feels like home,” said Graham via press release. “I had to fight and scrap for every chance to play with other teams, before the Bengals signed me. The Bengals made me feel wanted, not like they were still looking for someone with more experience or whatever. I was able to get involved in the community and make some real friendships I still have today.”
Graham visited Paul Brown Stadium Tuesday, where he and head coach Marvin Lewis met members of the news media to make this announcement.
“We’re flattered that Shayne has chosen to retire as a Bengal,” said Lewis. “He’s had a fine NFL career, including some strong, outstanding seasons for us. We got him just as my first season (2003) was beginning, and he was a big part of our first two playoff teams.”
Graham, who was with Cincinnati from 2003-09, is the franchise’s career leader in field goal percentage at 86.76, having made 177 of 204 attempts. He also holds team records for highest field-goal percentage in a season (91.18 in 2007) and consecutive field goals made (21 in 2007). His 779 points as a Bengal rank second behind Jim Breech (1151).
Off the field, Graham was also one of the team’s most active members in community service, highlighted by his “Kicks for Kids” program providing assistance for at-risk children in Greater Cincinnati, and he helped launch the local “Taste of the NFL” benefit that remains an annual event for the Freestore Foodbank. Graham is a former board member of the Freestore Foodbank, and he is a past Bengals team nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
After going undrafted in the 2000 NFL Draft, Graham signed with the New Orleans Saints before being waived during final cuts. it was a repeat the next year when Graham was signed by the Seattle Seahawks, only to be waived during final cuts.
After a brief stint with the Buffalo Bills in 2001 and Carolina Panthers from 2002-03, the Bengals claimed Graham off waivers in September of 2003 after Carolina discarded him. The rest is history, and even though he’s not played for the Bengals since the 2009 season, he’s kept an eye on them and hopes to see them have success with new kicker Randy Bullock.
Most will remember Bullock for his gut-wrenching miss in Houston, Graham thinks Bullock could be poised to have a similar career to his own.
“He’s mentally strong. I think he’s going to be able to bounce back from it,” said Graham of Bullock’s miss in Houston, via Bengals.com. “I feel like he’s going to end up being here for a while. He’s a really good kicker and a good dude. The obvious path is to let a young guy coming out see how he compares to Randy, and maybe that person competes and pushes Randy to perform at a level that they feel confident enough to keep Randy.”
We can only hope Bullock end up being as successful as Graham was during his best years in Cincinnati.