Earnest Graham’s selflessness leads to big day for Warrick Dunn

Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com wrote a great piece on Buccaneers’ RB Earnest Graham, who made the switch to fullback in Tampa’s 27-3 win over the Panthers on Sunday because of injuries. Graham’s selflessness allowed Warrick Dunn to rush for 115 yards.

Earnest Graham“I’d just like to tell our fans what he did today is what this game is all about,” Gruden said.

Gruden’s right. If Tampa Bay fans didn’t see what Graham did (and they may not have because the position is anonymous by its nature), they should at least know about it.

Graham was the reason Warrick Dunn rushed for 115 yards on 22 carries. That was 115 yards Graham could have had.

“I feel proud to block for Warrick,” Graham said.

Try getting any other starting tailback around the league to say those words. You probably wouldn’t have much luck. Graham has been Tampa Bay’s starting tailback since the middle of last season and had established himself as the team’s primary ball carrier.

But he voluntarily gave up carries for bruises when Byron Storer, Tampa Bay’s only active fullback, went down with a knee injury early in the game. B.J. Askew, the usual starting fullback, was inactive because of an injury.

Gruden’s initial reaction was to turn to the contingency plan the Bucs have in place every week in case they run short of fullbacks. He, and the rest of the offensive coaching staff, began getting tight end Alex Smith ready to go in at fullback.

That’s when Graham approached Gruden on the sideline.

“I came to Gruden and said, ‘If you need a fullback, I’m your fullback,’ ” Graham said.

Hopefully this story doesn’t go unnoticed by the mainstream media (outisde of ESPN obviously). There are so many selfish athletes in sports these days; it’s nice to finally hear about the ones that give themselves up for the greater good of their team.

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