Contributed by: Ash Nugent
Former AFL player Ben Graham is just beginning his second year in the NFL, playing American football. Remarkably on September 6, at a Captain's Day function held by his club, the New York Jets, he was named as one of their six captains for the upcoming season.
Graham was named Geelong captain in the AFL in 2000, yet he was particularly humbled with this next opportunity at being part of a leadership group. Whereas in the AFL, captains are selected by their coaching staff, in the NFL captains are selected by their peers.
He is joined by fellow captains Jonathan Vilma, Shaun Ellis (defence), Chad Pennington, Pete Kendall (offence) and Matt Chatham (special training).
Statisticians have been kept busy with the decision as it is quite possible that Graham becomes both the first Australian to captain an American sports team and the only person to captain a team in two professional sports leagues, at least in the modern era.
When Graham joined the Jets in 2005, he was 31 years of age. This made him the oldest rookie in NFL history. Since then he has impressed coaching staff, punting in all sixteen games. All this has contributed to his signing of a six-year deal with the club worth over US$5 million.
Whilst Graham's departure from the AFL and Geelong at the close of the 2004 season left some fans disgruntled, he has far from turned his back on football. Graham appeared at The New York Magpies (Aussie Rules club) Longest Kick competition earlier in the year. His novelty factor is also increasing knowledge of the game and the AFL in the States, with the player profile page on the New York Jet's website giving an insight into Graham's football career in Australia.
Graham's election as a captain was reported on the AFL, New York Times and New York Jets websites.
World Footy News