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Jimmy Graham: "Antonio Gates Paved the Way for Me"

TE Jimmy Graham spoke with members of the media about Charger's tight end Antonio Gates and QB Drew Brees in the locker room on Thursday


New Orleans Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham

Post-Practice Media Availability

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Going into this game, there have always been comparisons between you and Antonio Gates given your basketball backgrounds. How much do you see him as one of the guys who helped push the tight end position along for guys like you and him who maybe don't have the traditional football background?

"He's one of the reasons that I got an opportunity to play in the NFL. Without him, I wouldn't have even been given this opportunity or been given the opportunity to play in college. He paved the way for me. I know that. It was a special moment last year playing with him and (Tony) Gonzalez in the Pro Bowl. That was definitely a dream come true."

Did you guys play any pickup basketball in Hawaii?

"No, we didn't' play any pickup basketball. I would have loved to have played a little one-on-one with him."

How much did the one year in college help you as opposed him not getting that experience? Did it make you feel a little bit better?

"It definitely did. It built a little confidence in me. It taught me the basics literally from the ground up. I had the opportunity to learn without pressure. There was some pressure, but not as much pressure as comes with the NFL in trying to keep your job and feed your family. For me, I definitely think I got a booster by going to college and playing the six months.."

Wasn't Gates even much more of an experiment than you were here because I don't think he actually played in college at all?

"Most people would still stay that I'm still an experiment here. I remember when I was drafted here. People were shocked, third round and that they drafted a basketball player which stunned some people. So, for the most part, I think both of us were experiments."

Is it coincidence that both of you guys played with Drew Brees?


He took credit for you yesterday (joking)?

"I remember my first day with him right after rookie camp, I remember coming here and that was the first thing that he told me. He said, listen, I remember where (Antonio) Gates was when I first got into the league and I remember his first start. I'm going to work with you everyday. I'm going to work with you as much as I can, so that we can try to get that connection, because I think you're going to be a special player. You're a special athlete and I believe in you. That was my first day of work, so I remember he used to always compare certain things to Gates and how I should do things. That Gatesy did this and that. I definitely think he had a little bit of an impact."

You've caught quite a few touchdowns from Drew Brees. What would it mean to you to see him break this record?

"It would mean a lot. It would be even better to catch the touchdown. He's a special player. He's shown why he's the leader of the team. He's shown why he's an elite quarterback in the NFL. He's our leader and hopefully I can catch that one."

When talking with reporters in San Diego, Gates said he wasn't familiar with your basketball career, just your football career. What do you think of that?

"I wasn't a really good basketball player anyways. I was what most people would call the enforcer. I was the type of guy who went in the game, got a lot of fouls and got stuff started, dunked on people. For the most part, I guess he's right. For the longest time, I was trying to change the image and not to be called a basketball player anymore. That's an honor that he says that and looks at me as a tight end."

The dropped passes that have happened have been unusual for this team this year. Is there anything that you can put your finger on as to why they've occurred and how can you emphasize eliminating that?

"You just have to catch it. You just have to make the play. That's our job. Mainly it's been dropped passes in critical situations. That's what this team doesn't do normally, third and five, third and ten. On third down, balls have popped up and almost had chances to be intercepted. We have to stay on top of that. We have to correct all that."

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