NewOrleansSaints.com is giving fans an opportunity to submit their questions for their favorite players as part of our Behind the Facemask series. Throughout training camp, the Saints will announce a selected player via the team's Twitter account (@Saints) and fans will be able to reply with questions.
On Friday, fans were able to submit questions for TE Jimmy Graham.
Graham was drafted by the Saints in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft from the University of Miami after playing only one season of football. The former basketball stand-out quickly became a favorite target of quarterback Drew Brees and enjoyed a breakout second season. Graham enjoyed the most prolific campaign by a tight end in franchise history. He recorded 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns on his way to being named a Pro Bowl starter. Graham tied for first in club history in touchdown grabs and tied for fourth in yardage and was eventually named a Second-team Associated Press All-Pro.. In his two seasons in the NFL, Graham has recorded 130 receptions for 1,666 yards (12.8 avg.) with 16 touchdown grabs.
Did you do anything different this offseason to prepare for the upcoming season?
"No I didn't. I did the same exact thing I did last year to prepare for last season. I trained at the University of Miami with Jonathan Vilma and Jo-Lonn Dunbar. We got a lot of work in and worked hard. We started back really quickly and then I went to Colorado and did my training in the mountains for July which involves lots of cross-training with mountain bikes and yoga."
Were you surprised at your level of success last season?
"I wasn't surprised. I set really lofty goals to start the season. My goals fell right in to place. I am a guy who really reaches for the sky. For me, the goals that I set are literally that high and I was able to reach those last years."
What inspires you? What motivates you?
"I have a motivation to win. I have a motivation to be the best. I want people to respect me. I want people to call me a hard worker. Those are the things that motivate me. It is really self-motivation. There are not many outside forces, maybe my background. It is just in me to always fight. Even when things are good, I am always thinking of what I am doing wrong or what I could be doing better. For me, there is always a constant urge to get better. There is a constant urge to prove myself."
Do you have a favorite moment from last season?
"One of my favorite moments last year was playing in Atlanta. I scored a touchdown and whenever I dunked it, I bent the goal-post. Instantly, I felt like it had moved so I looked back and realized it was slanted. That was probably one of my favorite moments from last year for myself."
Do you have any new dunks planned?
"I do have some new dunks planned. I was working a little bit in the offseason. I saved most of the stuff. I have been doing windmills, 360s and just regular two-handed dunks. I will do a reverse. I have the between-the-legs in my back pocket. That is going to have to be like in the Super Bowl and I just got the game winner and I am just selling out."
If you had the chance, would you go back and play basketball?
"I wouldn't change anything. I only played six months in college. This was my path in life. Those things had to happen for me to be where I am at today. I definitely wouldn't change anything. I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be."
What feels better: a touchdown catch or a nice basketball block?
"A basketball block erases two points but a touchdown you get six points. Obviously I am going to go for six points. You get points faster that way. I would definitely have to say scoring a touchdown in the NFL because it is literally usually you one-on-one with a linebacker, safety, or DB and you are jumping over them and that is your moment of the game and all of the fans in the dome are screaming and going crazy. I always get to dunk after I score. When you get a blocked shot, you can't dunk."
How did you become interested in flying? When did you start?
"My sophomore year in college, there was a guy I knew who was an aerobatic instructor and he told me that I should go up with him one day. I have always loved flying and I wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid. My favorite movie is Top Gun. One day he takes me up and he flips this plane upside-down and we are flying literally facing the ground. Ever since then I have pretty much been in love with flying."
Would you be interested in being a pilot after you finish playing football?
"I will always be a pilot. I am always going to fly. I am going to fly myself everywhere any opportunity that I can get. I am not sure. I would like to own an FBO (Fixed-Base Operator) or my own airport so I don't have to drive to the airport anymore. I could just fly in to my house."
Is there a certain plane you would like to fly?
"Right now, I fly a Beechcraft Bonanza G36 and soon, hopefully, I will be flying this aerobatic called an Sbach 342. If I could fly any aircraft, I would want to fly a P-51 Mustang which is a World War II aircraft. It is probably the most beautiful aircraft that has ever been made. It is beyond fast. It is beautiful. It is sleek. It is literally the most beautiful aircraft ever made. I would definitely like to fly it."
What do you like to do in your spare time?
"Most of my spare time is spent in a classroom learning how to fly or in the aircraft flying. I do paddle-board quite a bit. I own about eight paddleboards. They are called Yolo paddleboards. I paddleboard down in Miami. It is a great cross-training activity for me. Two years ago, I had a high-ankle sprain and for my rehab, every day I just paddle-boarded. All of that balance and all of that really helped me to get better. I am very active in trying to get my story out there a little bit. I am always helping kids and trying to influence their lives."
What would it feel like to be able to help win a Lombardi Trophy here in New Orleans?
"You can't even begin to describe the feelings that you think you would have. It is the ultimate goal. You talk about sometimes in a meeting. You dream about it. Whenever I am in the offseason, that is what I am thinking about when I am training. For us to win a Lombardi Trophy, and to win it here in New Orleans, I would have to say would be the greatest moment in my life. I am going to be working as hard as I can to have that moment."