Former Virginia Tech and Pulaski County kicker Shayne Graham has made it official, he will not seek another job in the National Football League. Monday morning, he issued a statement through Facebook and Instagram.
“After 17 years of chasing a childhood dream, I’ve decided that it’s time to retire. For 15 years playing in the NFL was not just a dream but a reality. I got to experience the pure elation of making game winning field goals on national TV, and in playoff games. I also got to experience the pain of missing a kick when so many were counting on me, and I am grateful for all of those experiences as well. I learned so much about myself and life through it all,” he said.
His decision came shortly after Sunday’s Super Bowl. Many fans and supporters wondered if he would push for another opportunity in pro football.
Graham said no and will now look new to things to pass his time with. He signed in 2000 as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints and spent his career as a journeyman kicker, a role he learned to live with. He played for 14 different teams over his career including seven with the Cincinnati Bengals and one with the Atlanta Falcons and a partial with the New England Patriots—Sunday’s Super Bowl teams.
In 2005, Graham played in the NFL Pro Bowl. He graduated from Pulaski County High School in 1996 and still holds the school record for most field goals in a season with 15. He then attended Virginia Tech where he was first team All-Big East in four straight years and set both Big East and Virginia Tech marks of 97 consecutive extra points. He left Virginia Tech as the all-time scoring leader in history and Big East history with 371 points.
During his NFL career, he played with with the Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.
Two years ago, Graham served as a replacement kicker for the Falcons when Matt Bryant was injured during a game. In August of last year, he resigned with the team and was officially released in September, making the Falcons his final NFL team.
Ironically, Graham was signed in 2010 by the New England Patriots after an injury to Kicker Stephen Gostkowski. He finished the season 12-12 on field goals, going 2-2 in a playoff loss to the New York Jets.
Graham said he learned that adversity can be your best friend, and that feeling on top of the world can be your worst enemy.
“I learned to appreciate relationships over material things. I made a lot of poor decisions that I was able to learn and grow from. I found that teammates, coaches, equipment managers, trainers, grounds grew, maintenance workers and fans, were more than coworkers and colleges… but they were family. I had such a great support group around me that I would have never succeeded without their help,” he said.
It was in Cincinnati that Graham spent most of his career.
“Being able to reach out to the community, especially in Cincinnati made my career have a deeper purpose. Those are the memories that will last longer than the echoes of cheering fans. The records, the income, the adulation, will never outweigh the tears shed with fathers and mothers of gold star military families. The relationships with community organizations that were the lifeline to many families in need, will last well beyond the tarnished brass of any trophy,” he said.
“This has truly been a dream come true. I look forward to the challenge of the next chapter of my life,” Graham concluded.