Shayne Graham comes 'home,' retires as a Cincinnati Bengal

Kicker wanted to end where he made greatest mark
Posted at 4:00 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 16:00:40-05

CINCINNATI – Kicker Shayne Graham hasn’t played for the Bengals since 2009, but he wanted to end his 16-year NFL career where he left his heart.

"My best days were here - on and off the field," he said Tuesday at Paul Brown Stadium, where he smiled and  shook hands with his former coach, Marvin Lewis, and no doubt relived some of his best memories.

“Cincinnati means a lot to me. It still feels like home,”  the 39-year-old Virginia native said.

At Graham's request, the Bengals signed him to a one-day contract Tuesday so that the veteran of 10 NFL teams could officially retire as a Bengal. It’s testament to the success that Graham had on the field here as well as the contributions he made to the community.

 “We’re flattered that Shayne has chosen to retire as a Bengal,” said Lewis. “He’s had a fine NFL career, including some strong, outstanding seasons for us. We got him just as my first season (2003) was beginning, and he was a big part of our first two playoff teams.”

Cincinnati is where Graham had by far his longest tenure (seven seasons) and greatest success.

Graham holds Bengals’ records for career field goal percentage (86.76), highest FG percentage in a season (91.18 in 2007) and consecutive FGs made (21 in ’07). His 779 points as a Bengal rank second behind Jim Breech (1,151). He made the Pro Bowl as a Bengal in the 2005 season.

SEE Graham's career stats.

“I had to fight and scrap for every chance to play with other teams, before the Bengals signed me," Graham said. "The Bengals made me feel wanted, not like they were still looking for someone with more experience or whatever.  I was able to get involved in the community and make some real friendships I still have today.”

Off the field, Graham made a big impact through his community service.  His “Kicks for Kids” program provided a wide range of assistance for at-risk children, and Graham helped launch the local “Taste of the NFL” benefit that remains an annual event for the Freestore Foodbank. Graham was a Bengals nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

Graham started his career in Buffalo and Carolina and finished it with New England, NY Giants, Baltimore, Miami, Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta.  He didn’t play in 2016 after being cut by the Falcons in training camp.