Now, the two-time defensive MVP from Michigan is not only excited about contributing to Sean McDermott’s defense but also about interacting with his newest fans in the City of Brotherly Love.
Social networking has become a major part of sports when it comes to professional athletes interacting with their fans. Graham wants to take his status as a professional athlete to the next level by taking advantage of these sites. Recently, he launched a fan page on Facebook , and created a Twitter account to provide his fans in Philadelphia and across the country a chance to learn more about the player not just on the field, but off as well.
“I want to keep it updated for the fans,” says Graham. “I want to keep it updated for the fans so when they log on Twitter or Facebook, they can see what’s going on with me and where I may be in the Philadelphia area.”
When comparing him to other professional athletes, Graham’s appreciation towards his fanbase appears to be on a much higher level. He may be young and new to the NFL, but the 22-year-old rookie is already showing no signs of being shy when it comes to his passion for interacting with fans.
Graham wants to give his fans a different experience through these sites—whether it involves letting them know where he’s hanging out on a random Tuesday afternoon or allowing them the opportunity to win his autograph through raffles. He even has staff members that will keep fans updated on his statistics during games throughout the season.
No matter what it may be, the Eagles' first-round pick realizes the importance of his new fanbase and wants to do anything he can to maintain a positive relationship throughout the season.
“I feel it’s very important because that’s who you’re playing for—you’re playing for the fans,” Graham said about the importance of interacting with his fans. “You got fans who love the game and you want them to feel like they’re part of the game too. Without people watching, it wouldn’t be a game.”
Ever since he started playing football, Graham’s main goal was to attend the University of Michigan. He realized the importance of an education—which is why Graham made a commitment to himself long ago to finish school, so he could not only be remembered by his fans as a successful football player, but also as a student as well. Even with his busy schedule since the draft, he realized his top priority was to end his college career on a high note—which is why he still took time out of his busy schedule to finish up his final year as a Wolverine and attend graduation.
“School is very important to me and that’s why coach didn’t let me leave early,” Graham explained. “I was the first one in my family to go and I just wanted to be part of graduation ceremony because I felt like I owed that to my parents. It was letting people know that not only did I make it as a football player, but I made it through school too.”
It’s been a busy last few months for Graham, between finishing up school and participating in OTAs to prepare for the upcoming 2010 season. Not only has he received guidance from former Eagles linebacker Hugh Douglas, but also new teammates who are fellow Michigan alumni have made sure Graham has does everything he can to start his experience as a rookie in Philadelphia the right way.
“I got to talk with Marlin Jackson and Jason Avant,” Graham said. “They’re making sure I’m alright and making sure I get through and learning as much as possible. I’ve been getting the edge on everything because they’ve been keeping me updated.”
“That first game against Green Bay—that’s a big game—and it’s going to define what’s going to happen the rest of the season,” he explained. “The preseason games are always the best, but that first game when it’s time to set the record. That’s going to be important that I’m going to be as prepared as I can be for that first game.”
With Graham still on the board through the first 12 picks of the 2010 NFL Draft, the reasoning behind his selection should come as no surprise. He was arguably one of the top defensive ends from this year’s class and has the potential to have an immediate impact as an effective pass rusher. Not to mention he led the nation with 26 tackles for a loss during his senior year to go along with his 10.5 sacks.
Fans will fall in love with Graham not only for what he does on the field but also because of who he is an individual. He contains one of the best personalities, and his newest fans will see that when they start interacting with him through Facebook and Twitter.
Coming from Michigan, Graham is used to playing in front of large crowds, as The Big House contains one of the best fanbases in college football. Now, he looks forward to playing in front of one of the most intimidating crowds in the NFL in Philadelphia, a city well-known for its fans.
“I heard how passionate they are,” Graham explained. “From what I hear, they define the word die-hard.”
Dan Parzych is the Eagles Fan Voice for NFLTouchdown.com .
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