Earnest Graham Explains His Approach: Ke’Shawn Vaughn Should Listen

July 7th, 2021

Former Bucs running back/fullback/special teams ace Earnest Graham

Only a handful of men in history can say they played nine years for the Buccaneers, and even fewer can claim the selfless approach of Earnest Graham.

After pounding the rock, pounding as a fullback and being a special teams beast for nine years (2003-2011), Graham retired after an Achilles injury six games into the 2011 season.

It’s been widely speculated that Graham retired at 32 years old because he couldn’t play after the injury. But that’s not the case.

Per Graham’s recent chatter on Frankly Speaking Sports, he explained that he could have kept playing and had an offer from the Jaguars and another team in 2012. But Graham said he didn’t want to wear a jersey that wasn’t his beloved pewter and red.

Man, that is so Earnest Graham, the Gators star from southwest Florida who grew up in a family of Bucs fans.

Joe brings up Graham today after hearing him asked by host Larry Frank how he handled barely getting a chance to carry the ball in his first four Tampa Bay seasons.

Graham explained that he loved the game, his teammates and the process so much, that sparse carries outside of preseason didn’t phase him. That got Joe thinking about Bucs second-year running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and where his mind will need to be if he’s going to thrive with Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and Giovani Bernard on the roster.

“I never begrudged behind anybody,” Graham said, noting that he’s still in touch with Michael Pittman, Cadillac Williams and Mike Alstott.

“Just the camaraderie of sports, the mindset that you need … and to learn a skill and be great at something, and to kind of be patient developing a skill, I was probably more in love with that than I was the limelight, so to speak,” Graham said. “So as I was playing and going to practice every day, that was a dream for me. You know what I mean? And learning from the best and being around the best, you know that was more of a dream. I didn’t think I needed to overly prove anything to anybody. I just always felt like I could do anything. It’s funny; I just felt like I could do anything. So I was confident that when I was called upon, that could do it.”

Graham went on to say he always felt like he was working and competing in the moment, like battling to lead the Bucs in special teams tackles or fired up to play fullback when called upon early in his career.

Of course, Bucs fans remember what happened when Graham got a shot with the rock in 2007. He made the most of it and the Bucs rode him en route to clinching the NFC South with two games remaining in the regular season.

Joe can only imagine what ran through Vaughn’s head when the Bucs signed Bernard in March. Regardless, Vaughn most likely will need to adopt Graham’s approach in order to make the most of this season.

13 Responses to “Earnest Graham Explains His Approach: Ke’Shawn Vaughn Should Listen”

  1. gp Says:

    There’s a man who understands the concept of “team”, accepted his roll, and gave it his all when given the chance.

  2. Buczilla Says:

    Loved me some Earnest Graham man. He should have been getting the carries after Cadillac blew his wad in his rookie season.

  3. Jason Says:

    If you ever get a chance to see his highschool highlights it’s hilarious. Nobody could tackle him.

  4. Mort Says:

    If Vaughn doesn’t figure out what “Special Teams” is, he might not even make the team. Dude needs to find a role. Currently he doesn’t have one.

  5. Dickson Says:

    This is a wonderful service here we all enjoy !

  6. Pewter Power Says:

    Great article

  7. teacherman777 Says:

    He is a Saint!

  8. Hodad Says:

    We’re going to see a whole lot of Vaughn these preseason games. He’ll have a good opportunity to show where he stands.

  9. Wild Bill Says:

    It takes production to get playing time. He needs to make some highlights in the pre season to get any reps when the real games begin. Being number 4 or worse in the depth chart is hard to overcome. Would not be surprised if he goes on the inactive list each week unless a starter gets injured.

  10. Razor Ramone Says:

    Wasn’t it Ernest who was running wild on The Giants in the playoffs and Chucky went pass happy in the 2nd.half and it all went south?

  11. JAMES LOFTON Says:

    Last year McCoy was ahead of Vaughn in the depth chart but after only a couple of early games didn’t see see the field again. Vaughn needs to transform his game like playoff Lenny did when RoJo got hurt late in the season. Do that and he will see his playing time increase. His time to play is about elevating his thinking and an all out effort like playoff Lenny.

  12. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    With the few times I got the ball Key was very impressive. Actually deserved some some of the plays Leonard got. All he can do is impress and show we don’t need Gio.

  13. PSL Bob Says:

    Right on Joe! Patience, particularly in this game is key. Learn from the vets, perfect your craft, and let it rip when given the opportunity.

    As for Earnest Graham, I agree with others. The man was as steady as they come and deserves much respect.