Things will be a little different for Brandon Graham during today’s trip to Ford Field in Detroit. For starters, the Eagles’ rookie won’t have to run a mile to get a glimpse of the stadium.
Graham went to high school at Crockett Vocational Technical High School, exactly one mile up the road from the home of the Lions. “It’s called the purple mile,” Graham said. ”We had to run after practice. The coaches would get in their cars and we’d all have a route we’d run.”
The path took them past Ford Field, which hosted the city and state championships, adding some motivation to the conditioning workout. It paid off. “I played a city championship my junior year of high school, that was the last time I played at Ford Field,” said Graham.
Graham helped Crockett take the Detroit Public School League title in 2004, with the standout athlete playing linebacker and offensive guard in addition to handling kicking and punting duties. Graham was First-Team All-Detroit before heading just over 40 miles west to spend his college career at Michigan.
Now a defensive end for the Eagles after being selected in the first round of the 2010 Draft, Graham gets to make a week two homecoming trip to the Motor City.
Graham arranged a group rate through the ticket office for more than 100 of his family, friends and former teammates. If he appeased everyone who asked, that number would skyrocket. “Well, we’d go into the thousands then,” Graham said with a laugh. “But no, there’s a lot of people that’s going to be there already, and there’s more people that I don’t even know about that got tickets on their own.”
“It feels good, you know, to have all my supporters come out that day to watch me play. And you know, just too bad it’s gotta be against a team I grew up watching all the time,” Graham said.
The Detroit native continues to be a Lions fan, as long as his Eagles aren’t playing them. He insists Detroit is in for a better season this year, and while the rest of his Philadelphia teammates say that because it’s the appropriate thing to say during the week leading up to the game, Graham really hopes it’s true.
“Now I’ve gotta go after them, but after the game I’ll still be a fan. Still a Lion fan as long as they aint playing us,” said Graham.
Throughout his career, many Detroit fans will be Brandon Graham fans as well, as long as he’s not playing them. Graham estimates that around half of his cheering section will want an Eagles win, while the other half just wants him to play well in a Lions victory.
Graham will take their support either way, as he fulfills a dream and takes to Ford Field in an NFL uniform.
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