Former Saints TE Graham Hits A “Nerve” With Who Dats


The love for former New Orleans Saints and current Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham had been hanging by a thread, prior to the offseason trade among hardcore Who Dats.

Graham, who was dubbed “Golden Graham” by fans, after being drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, seemed to be an unstoppable force on the Saints offense.

Saints fans screamed in gladiatorial approval when the 6’7″, 270 pound playmaker would flex his biceps at defenders and slam footballs over goalposts.

Dec 2, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) celebrates a touchdown reception against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

But that all changed a few years ago, when it seemed Graham wasn’t himself and slowly developed the label of being “soft”.

While there were some disgruntled fans; the majority believed that it was injuries slowing down the tight end, and he could shake it off.

The scales really tipped though when Graham was involved in a pregame altercation right before the playoff game against the Seahawks, in January 2014.

Graham and Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin got involved in a verbal shouting match that ended up with Graham ripping Irvin’s stocking hat off — and tossing it on the ground.

This was it, Graham was fired up and going to put on a show, right?

Well…not really.

For all the bravado, Graham was held to one catch for eight yards in that game; and zero touchdowns while only being targeted five times.

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The thread I mentioned got thinner during the offseason, as the great wide receiver vs. tight end debate began involving Graham’s new contract.

Graham wanted to be paid as a wide receiver — while the Saints contended he was a tight end.

Fans of course responded on social media to the fact even Graham’s Twitter bio mentioned he was a tight end, and considered him a bit greedy since the Saints were already tight against the salary cap.

The whole mess drug on until July; when Graham signed a 4-year, $40 million dollar deal and all was right with the world….well not really.

Dec 21, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) lies on the field after missing a catch against the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Graham was still carrying the “soft” label; and his blocking skills left a bit to be desired, and some said (and still say) that he didn’t have any at all.

Looking back on the 2013-2014 season, Graham had his worst season ever as a blocker; with Pro Football Focus rating him 45th out of 64 tight ends when it came to run blocking and 39th at pass blocking.

For 2014-2015 PFF had him rated 15th out of 67 tight ends on run blocking, and 33rd for pass blocking.

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Graham, who once drug defenders behind him, only managed 292 yards after a catch in 2014; which was his lowest since his rookie year in 2010 where he only had 152 yards and only played in eleven games.

Also staggering was that the richly paid Graham only managed to snag 85 receptions for 889 yards and ten touchdowns, another low only topped by his rookie year.

Another noticeable trend was that the effort from Graham seemed minimal, with eight dropped passes — which was his second highest behind the 2012 season, where he had fifteen.

Discontent continued to grow within the fan base, but it appeared the Saints were going to have to ride Graham’s contract out until the end…well, that’s what we thought until the Seahawks came calling.

The only real shock that came during the trade with Seattle was due to the fact that the Saints didn’t seemingly have someone to replace him with immediately, and not that Graham himself would be missed.

Oct 19, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Lions defeated the Saints 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I noticed several “good riddance” posts on social media; and knew that the love affair for the former basketball player was coming to an end with Who Dat Nation.

Then of course, their contempt for Graham was made even worse after the trade, when ESPN Insider Chris Mortensen reported that after Graham had signed his new contract with the Saints, that he didn’t like to be hit or even “touched” during practice.

Now apparently happier with his new surroundings in Seattle, since joining the Seahawks Graham has dug the knife in on the Saints and their fan base a bit; telling that once he was traded that he knew he was “going to the best team in football”. Ouch.

Another dig he had was when he mentioned that although he feels that he owes the Saints and their fanbase a lot; all that he really cares about is “winning championships”, further saying that:

"“When you got to an organization like the Seattle Seahawks — an organization that you can tell that’s all that’s on their mind, is winning and winning rings at that, winning championships, and that’s their complete focus.”"

The insinuation that Graham felt he wasn’t going to achieve that with the Saints, was not lost on his former fans at all.

Graham once again raised an eyebrow with Saints fans regarding some comments he made recently to ESPN 710 AM in Seattle’s Brady Henderson concerning his blocking skills, which seemed non-exisitant in New Orleans:

"“Listen, man, I’m 270 pounds. I can block anybody I want to.  It’s all about want-to. We’ll see come this first Sunday.” Dec 21, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 35-6. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports"

Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was also quoted on Graham’s willingness to become a blocker:

"“He’s totally willing to do it. He’s excited about it. I think he kinda has a little chip; he wants to prove it as well. We’re looking forward to that.”"

Some comments following’s “Around The NFL” segment on the story generated mostly the following responses on Twitter:

In a clip for the segment on Around The NFL, Graham continued to praise the Seahawks on how they have “exceeded my expectations” and that “the players run the team”; which the latter was a forbidden concept with head coach Sean Payton.

No doubt, the final nerve Graham continues to step on grinds with Saints fans — and the thread that was thin already has now snapped.

Although the Saints aren’t scheduled to face the Seahawks in the regular season, the Playoffs could be a different story.

That’s a scenario that many in New Orleans will “want to” see, for sure…..

Next: Despite Disappointment, Saints Fans Still Love Rob Ryan