Kicker Graham Gano
August 6, 2021
Q: Three veterans retired this week, have you seen that before? Is that unusual?
A: I think it happens during camps. I mean you’d have to ask them, I can’t answer for them, but everybody’s got their own reasons. I really don’t know. I mean, I’ve seen it before playing for a while. That kind of stuff happens in camp.
Q: So as a teammate, it doesn’t turn your head when that many guys do that?
A: No. I mean, you’re sad to see them go. They’re some great guys, but everybody’s got their own individual reasons. You love them and you’re happy you got to spend some time with them.
Q: Graham, how different is this for you compared to last year in terms of your focus? Whether you had anything to prove or not, I’ve got to imagine going into this year you have a certain plan how you want to get ready for the season?
A: I’m excited to have the fans back. I think that’s going to be fun. I was just thankful to be playing again. I was just thankful for the opportunity last year. I had the knee surgery, I felt confident in my abilities, but I think the biggest thing I was just thankful to play the game again and that’s kind of how I feel. I think I’m just going to feel like that from here on out. I’m just having fun playing the game. I feel blessed to have the opportunity and this is such an amazing organization. Being up here in New York, New Jersey and being with all the guys has been a lot of fun.
Q: How different is this offseason coming back here?
A: Yeah, I think it was just like a week ago when it was like the anniversary of me being released from the Panthers.
Q: They didn’t send you a card here, right?
A: No, I thought about sending them one. A little anniversary card, a little thank you. But yeah, I was thankful for my time there. I just love playing this game and any time you get a chance to play a sport for a living is a blessing. Yeah, this offseason was nice knowing where I was going to be.
Q: How do you improve on it or do you just want to have the same year?
A: I just take it kick by kick honestly. I try not to put any pressure on myself and just come out every day trying to get better. I think that’s the goal for all of us. We just want to get better every single day, but that’s been my focus, just coming out here and putting my best foot forward daily and just trying to get better every single day.
Q: Do (Head Coach Joe) Judge and (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas) McGaughey kind of leave you alone because they know you’re a veteran and you know what you’re doing? Or do they coach you up?
A: I think you know, when it’s me, they say something. I’m in communication with them every day. There’s a lot that goes into special teams in general, so I’m in there in all the meetings and I’m sure you’ve seen coach kick as well. He knows what he’s talking about and he can hit an onside kick with the best of them. Yeah, it’s great. We’ve got a lot of experience on the staff on special teams so that was definitely intriguing for me coming in here last year and seeing the importance of it. That definitely helps and they were definitely a big help for me.
Q: What’s with that little sidespin he’s got going on in there on the onside kick?
A: Oh, he’s got all kinds of onside kicks. I don’t know. I’d have to see it. He’ll tell you, too. He’s pretty good at it.
Q: When you’re kicking off and you see a guy like (Wide Receiver) John Ross with his speed back there, what goes through your mind?
A: Just don’t want to make him feel bad when I catch him, you know? I’m glad he’s on my team. I had some speed back in the day, but ideally, I wouldn’t want to tackle any of those guys. Yeah, we’ve been working on tackling drills in here as well.
Q: It’s a little bit different this year, you guys are scheduled to practice with both the Browns and the Patriots for a couple of days. Is that something because there’s fewer preseason games or what’s the value behind it?
A: Honestly, I’m not sure. You’d have to ask Coach about that, but our goal is to enjoy it. I’ve done it quite a few times just being able to, you know the saying ‘iron sharpens iron’ and it’s nice to be able to do that with specialists from the other teams and get that little bit of competition in and it’s a nice change of scenery to go somewhere else. I think it makes everybody better, competition always makes everyone better.
Q: Do you find yourself when you’re in that situation just spending time with the other kickers?
A: It’s a lot like a fraternity. I wasn’t in one in college, but it’s like a kicker fraternity, so everybody knows each other. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing those guys both in New England and Cleveland, so that’ll be fun. Yeah, you just pick each other’s brains and try to make each other better.