Earnest Graham Talks To Joe

May 6th, 2010

One of the true good guys on the Buccaneers, Earnest Graham, is in full community-service mode during the offseason.

Though he lives in the Tampa area now, Graham not only works on charitible efforts in the Bay area but around his hometown of Fort Myers, as well. His foundation, Earnest Giving, hosts a huge annual weekend event in Cape Coral. And Graham recruits many Buccaneers to give a full 24 hours of community service.

The foundation largely supports children with cancer. In previous years, Graham has supported performing arts programs for kids, in addition to other causes.

This year’s festivities kickoff on Friday, May 14. Graham will lead 15 or so Buccaneers in a charity basketball game at Mariner High School in Cape Coral.

Graham expects the roughly 1,000-seat gymnasium to sell out. Then the players will head to a Cape Coral night club for an 11 p.m. party. After that, Graham will have the guys up early Saturday to visit children with cancer, and then they’ll head to a local bowling alley for the Roll With Earnest celebrity bowling event at 1 p.m.

You can get all the details here, fans can attend all the events at very reasonable prices.

Joe talked to Graham about the big charity weekend and, of course, about Bucs football. Graham shed some light on the Bucs’ draft picks, playing fullback and the impact of Kareem Huggins, and more.

Joe: Tell me about the Friday night festivities you have planned around this celebrity basketball game. Which Buccaneers are any good at hoops?

Earnest Graham: Football guys want to be basketball players. We’re always up for a basketball game. It’s very similar to last year. It’ll be celebrities against high school alumni, and a post-party to benefit the foundation. Josh Johnson is a ridiculous athlete. We all want to see him play again. Tanard [Jackson] can play. Clifton [Smith’s] good. (laughs) That’s about it. … I just stay on the bench pretty much. …Let the other guys play.

Joe: Most players raise money for charity with a golf tournament or just one event. This is a pretty big commitment to get a lot of your teammates involved over two days and outside of Tampa. How does that go over with them?

Graham: A lot of the guys on the Bucs are very focused off the field. And they know my commitment level off the field.  So I expect a lot. I take good care of them and put them up at a resort. I’m very grateful for the commtiment. This year it’ll be about 15 guys. We’re still confirming. It’ll be a good number. …I get the sponsors to help take care of them. This year it’s pretty much 24 hours full of events. It’s such a huge deal in [Southwest Florida] because it’s not everyday that the Buccaneers are around. There’s a lot of excitement around this from the Bucs fans there. 

Joe: I know you’re an excellent bowler. Tell me about the Saturday bowling event.

Graham: That’s definitely the event that’s more personal. Bowlers will get to win a raffle to pick what celebrity they bowl with. And [the spectators] will have chances for autographs. … A guy like Cadillac Williams is someone who will really take the time with people.

Joe: So, are you the Bucs starting fullback coming into camp? Have you been told that by the coaches?

Graham: I wouldn’t say that. And I can’t really answer that. You know, I know right now I’m a guy who can play all over the place, run the ball. No question. The more I’m involved, the better.

Joe: How was your play evaluated at fullback after the season? Did you get all positive feedback?

Graham: They were happy with me playing the fullback position. I never trained to be a fullback. It was something that I had to do.

Joe: Have you trained differently this offseason knowing that you could become the starting fullback? Have worked on getting bigger or stronger, anything specific to prepare yourself?

Graham: I naturally sort of that type of fullback build — short, sturdy, stocky. So not really anything specific that I’ll be doing. I don’t know that I’d ever be a goal line guy, a Lorenzo Neal type of fullback. In our offense, now that we’re running more of a West Coast attack, there’s an opportunity for me to catch a number of passes and really make the offense more unpredictable. So a team won’t know if I’m in as a fullback or going to split out wide or come right out of the backfield. I can really help the team in that kind of role.

Joe: You said on the radio that you might be training in the spring with Kareem Huggins, when you resume your workouts. Have you two gotten together yet?

Graham: We haven’t. I’ve been staying in shape but pretty much resting up because of my toe injury I had at the end of the year. I really wanted to wait and make sure that was 100 percent. I’m really targeting the OTAs coming up. That’ll be my definite time leading up to the season; I’ll go hard from May to July.

Joe: Regarding Kareem Huggins, Coach Morris recently called Huggins “the driving force or our football team.” Can you explain how that is and what the coach means there, considering Huggins didn’t really see the field? Is that just his effort on the scout team?

Graham: Kareem’s an energy guy. A very high effort guy. Someone who gives 100 percent in practice. I would say he was the only guy like that. Sammie Stroughter is like that as well. Chris Pressley does that as well, bringing a physical presence to the practice field every day. Kareem finishes all his runs. He really out there making it tough on the defense by giving them a great look in practice. It’s very hard for the defense, very hard to match Kareem’s energy and tempo during practice. For the defense, you get to a game situation and it’s probably slower than the pace Kareems at in practice. He’s been a huge asset to the football team. He’s made our defense better. 

Joe: Obviously, the Bucs will come to camp in a much more stable, familiar situation than last year. Will that continuity really make a difference?

Graham: It’s a huge deal. Years past, the years I was under Gruden, we changed quarterbacks a lot. Whether it was Chris Simms, Brian Griese, Bruce Gradkowski, Jeff Garcia, Griese … that’s hard on a football team even with the same coaching staff. And then last year…the league is tough enough, and then you throw all those changes in. It’s tough on a football team, especially a young football team. ….It has to help, going in knowing what you’re going to get, knowing who the quarterback is. It should translate on the field.

Joe:  Did you watch the draft? What’s your take on the Bucs’ picks?

Graham: I definitely paid attention to the first couple of picks on TV. I think, as with every draft and every team, it will depend on the leadership on our football team. That will dictate what these players will become and when. Every team has a draft and there’s a lot of hype, but after the draft is over it gets back to football really quick. We have to establish our leadership and chemistry on the team for these players and this team to be successful quickly. The envrionment in the locker room will dictate that. We know everyone who gets drafted is talented.

Joe: So what about leadership? It seems almost like the Bucs don’t have that leadership in place yet. Coach Morris recently talked about leaders needing to emerge. When might that happen?

Graham: It just happens. You can’t script it. Leaders show up when it matters. Leaders are those guys who show up and produce. Leaders are going to develop. We’re a young football team.

19 Responses to “Earnest Graham Talks To Joe”

  1. Eric Says:

    Reading between the lines, don’t think he likes playing fullback.

    Wonder why they haven’t clarified his role yet? You would think letting the man know would be beneficial.

  2. Raheem Morris Says:

    When you are talking about Earnest Graham, you are talking about a physical, violent runner. You are talking about a guy you wouldn’t mind having in the boat with you… paddling.

    There is no pamphlet given out on how to be Earnest Graham, you just got to take the ball and run with it.

  3. C Jags Says:

    hilarious, truly hilarious.

  4. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    I love Graham. But I do believe its his time to go. We have 3-4 RB’s that can produce better. Our FB’s are better as well. I think this Taylor kid will end up pushing him off our roster. I just don’t see the need to use a roster spot on him when we have Caddie, Ward, Clifton, Huggins, Taylor, and our FB. OMG I’m drawing a blank on his name currently. But most teams have 1 FB not 3.

    Maybe cut him and offer him a FO job, or a player personnel (i think i spelled that wrong) position. He is great for the community, but his time is up!

  5. d-money Says:


    I’d rather see either Caddy or Ward go before they get rid of a versitile player like Graham.

  6. Joe Says:


    While Joe doesn’t totally agree, one must remember Graham is 30.

    Joe believes it’s safe to say Graham has seen his better days… or that his better days are rapidly vanishing. A running back who is 30 is an old man.

    Joe doesn’t have much faith in Clifton Smith as a running back. Puts the ball on the ground too many times, which is why Chucky was hesitant to use him.

  7. Eric Says:

    With Ward, Caddy, and Graham, our running backs are collectively a bit long in the tooth.

  8. sgw94 Says:

    One thing yall should remember about Graham is his place as a stalwart on our special teams. Really and truly in my heart I believe that’s why he didn’t start this year. He was the only guy of the top 3 who could or would also run down on kickoffs and punts and block for kickoff return and punt returns. And its not like he is just a guy out there, he makes some plays too. He has more value than just as a tailback or a fullback so he will be on the roster regardless and he should be. Hell it would be great if we gave him carries also because I still think he is the best all around runner we have but it doesn’t look like that will work out for him.

  9. Jay Says:

    @ Joe

    While he is 30, he doesn’t have Thomas Jones or LT mileage on him.

    I can’t believe some people think EG has gone from unknown asset to one of the better offensive players on our roster to one of the best TEAM PLAYERS on our roster to all of a sudden over the hill and washed up in 3 years.

    Graham won’t be confused with Chris Johnson, but this team is so thin on leaders and effort guys, why on earth would you think Graham needs to go?

  10. Joe Says:


    While he is 30, he doesn’t have Thomas Jones or LT mileage on him.

    Very good point! He didn’t have many carries at all his first few years. Good analysis, thanks man.

  11. George C. Costanza Says:

    Good stuff, Joe. Thanks.

  12. Joe Says:

    You are welcome George.

  13. mlloye Says:

    FunkyMonkey needs to lay off the Skunky!!

    Any one who wants EG gone or thinks he should go should stay off the crack pipe!! He is one of the best all around universal players we have who wants nothing more than to play some football. He is 30yrs young not old. I agree with Joe about the low milage, not to mention his leadership, and he is a mentor for all of our young players to look up to ,(team player), not a TO give me the ball (mememememe). EG is a key component on this team and I look forward to seeing him on our sidelines.

  14. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    I personally would like to get rid of all our RB’s and replace them. That can’t happen so we’ve got what we got. I was just saying there isn’t room for him. We are starting to fill up with “special teams” players. I know ST is VERY important and we need great players out there to cover kicks. EG is a leader and has a huge heart. I just think its time to move on.

    Graham being 30 has nothing to do with my opinion on him. Thomas Jones will be 32 and is still a top RB in the league. Man I wish we still had him! Caddie is the only one I like on our team. That position is a weakness for us and will show this year. Jonathon Dwyer in the 6th could’ve helped us out A LOT but we also needed a punter so we shall see how that turns out!

  15. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    And it is some good “skunky” might I say!!

  16. JDouble Says:

    Go Kareem Huggins!

  17. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    I knew you would find a way in here to support Huggins! I hope he actually gets some playing time this year!!!

  18. Patrick Says:

    Earnest Graham deserves to be a tailback! Period. He’s basically having his career taken away from him by having to play FULLBACK!!!!

  19. adam from ny Says:

    gruden f*cked alstott…

    now raheem is f*ucking earnest

    adam from ny