Graham Gano: 'Praise God No Matter What'
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CBN.com Hardly a week goes by in the NFL where the final outcome of a game doesn’t rest on the shoulders – and legs – of the placekicker. Graham Gano of the Washington Redskins says that’s just the way he likes it.
“Just having the ability to change a game with one kick… I feed off that pressure," Graham tells CBN Sports. "If there’s pressure, that’s more exciting. That’s more adrenaline that’s running. I think that’s what helps me to be successful in the field.”
In his first full season for the Redskins, Graham is adjusting well to his life as an NFL kicker.
“It’s just having faith and practicing a lot, really preparing myself for the games, because I know in the games that’s when I’m on national TV. I’m able to represent the Lord and what He’s done in my life.”
His journey to the NFL was not a conventional one. He says,“My dad was in the Navy for 30 years, and I grew up bouncing all over the world. I lived in Canada, Scotland, Germany. Growing up in those countries, soccer was the big sport. So I played that growing up. When I went to high school, they weren’t offering the soccer program, and one of my buddies said, ‘We don’t have a kicker on the team. So why don’t you come out and try it?’ It was kicking a ball, so I thought I’d give it a shot and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Graham grew up a Christian. In some ways, his faith influenced his decision to play at Florida State under the legendary Bobby Bowden.
“I always grew up a Florida State Seminoles Fan, a fan of Bobby Bowden. He came to visit my family in my home, which was amazing to me that a coach so, so awesome would come to my home in Pensacola, FL, and talk to my family. But what really stood out to me about him was his faith. I knew that faith was very important to my family. That’s something he made clear to me in my home was just faith; he didn’t talk about football at all the entire time. He was just talking about God and the academics at Florida State and anything but football. That made the difference.”
Graham went on to a successful career at Florida State, but just weeks before his senior season, a knee injury threatened his future as a kicker.
“Two weeks before the season I was punting in practice, and I turned on my knee when I was punting and felt it pop. I actually tore my meniscus. So I go from thinking, I’m going to be in the NFL to I might not even play football this year. That really tested my faith.”
The knee injury only sidelined him four games, but it was during that down time that Graham truly sought God.
“I learned to trust in the Lord in college. It all started there. That was really when the seed was planted in me to realize that God is the whole reason for everything. He’s the reason why I have this ability that I have. He’s the reason why I’m playing and the reason how I’ve got this far.”
Graham didn’t get picked up in the 2009 NFL draft. But at the end of that season, the Redskins gave him a shot and he became a nice fit.
“After I make a kick, when I do point up to the sky, I’m just giving God the praise. That’s my moment with Him on the field thanking Him for everything. If I miss a field goal, it’s not like I’m not giving the Lord the praise. I’m constantly thanking Him for giving me this ability, for keeping me healthy and keeping me out here. Whenever I make the field goal, I’m giving Him all the praise, because it’s not me that has made that field goal. It’s Him through me that’s given me this ability to make that kick.”
Graham knows he could be playing for 15 more seasons or it could all end tomorrow. That’s why the most important thing to him is his faith in Christ.
“You have to trust in the Lord. No matter what. Things aren’t always going to be going right like you want them to go. As long as you have faith and trust and you’re in your Word every day, even when you’re going through hard times or good times, praise God no matter what.”
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