BENNY SECURES CONTRACT WITH JETS
BEN GRAHAM, former skipper and still favorite son of many Geelong fans, has secured a contract with the New York Jets, reportedly worth a minimum US$230,000. Initially given no guarantees after retiring from AFL football to pursue a gridiron career, Graham is now assured of 12 months in the states, and some pocket money.
As incoming Jets CEO Terry Bradway put it: "... and Ben Graham, the Australian Rules rugby player that we signed as a punter to a contract for this coming season."
Recruited from Leopold the old fashioned way (via the now defunct Under 19s), Graham played 219 games for the Cats. He made his debut in Round 21 1993, a win over Essendon at then Kardinia Park. Playing another seven games in 1994, by 1995 he was a regular fixture in Geelong's backline, taking over as full back once Stephen O'Reilly left for Fremantle in 1995.
Graham took over the captaincy from Leigh Colbert in 2000, chosen ahead of stand-in captain Garry Hocking. His first season as captain, also Mark Thompson's first as coach, was successful, finishing fifth after the home and away season. Subsequently, Graham appeared at times to struggle with the burden of the leadership, almost earning the term 'much maligned' among some fans - although when he performed well the accolades didn't come as fast.
The end of Ben's AFL career at Geelong appeared to come out of the blue - in late October it became known that Graham was trialling with several NFL teams as a punter. Despite being a 'required player' and offered another contract, and even the opportunity to spend virtually none of the pre-season in Geelong (which was realistically unworkable), Graham took a punt (pardon the pun) on the Jets; and formally retired from the club.
Ben Graham has been a fantastic servant of the club, supporters and the region since making his debut back in 1993. The Cattery wishes him well in his gridiron career, and report on his progress with interest.
FORMER CAPTAIN BEN GRAHAM, CHAIRED OFF AFTER HIS 200TH GAME, IS HEADING FOR THE NFL