The Bengals today are assisting former K Shayne Graham in sending a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, declaring that Graham is ceremonially "retiring as a Bengal." Graham kicked in the NFL for 16 seasons (2001-15), playing for multiple teams, but his term with Cincinnati (2003-09) stands as significantly his longest with one team.
Graham is Cincinnati's career leader in field goal percentage at 86.76, having made 177 of 204 attempts. He also holds club records for 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 (1151). He made the Pro Bowl as a Bengal in the 2005 season.
Off the field, Graham was consistently among the Club's "go-to" players for community service. His "Kicks for Kids" program provided a wide range of assistance for at-risk children in Greater Cincinnati, and he helped launch the local "Taste of the NFL" benefit that remains an annual event for the Freestore Foodbank. Shayne is a former board member of the Freestore, and he is a past Bengals team nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
"Cincinnati means a lot to me; it still feels like home," said Graham, a Virginia native who remained in the NFL through the 2016 preseason and recently said he would not pursue further playing opportunities. "I had to fight and scrap for every chance to play with other teams, before the Bengals signed me. 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."
Graham visited Paul Brown Stadium today, where he and head coach Marvin Lewis met members of the news media.
"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."
Below is the letter to the commissioner:
Dear Commissioner Goodell,
My decision to retire from football was not really my own, as I have found that time is undefeated.
But I have made the decision to "retire as a Bengal," and that decision is all my own, and a very easy one to make.
Mike Brown and the Bengals organization have supported my desire to be recognized as a Bengal for life, opening their arms just as they did in 2003, when they brought me into this organization. I didn't know it at the time, but I became a part of a family. I made a relationship with a team and a community.
The value of these relationships has been priceless. There is no contract that can ever put a dollar figure on the bond that was created with my time here. I leave playing professional football as a better man than when I started. I made mistakes and I grew from them, and together with this city I found that my purpose was not to play a game, but to be a part of something bigger.
The Bengals are a family that I will always be grateful for. To all the coaches, employees, teammates, fans, and friends I made in my time in Cincinnati, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget the smiles from children, the hearts of those that cared more for their community than themselves, and the organizations that welcomed me to being a part of their outreach.
Cincinnati will forever be the lasting cornerstone of my NFL career.