Jimmy Graham's career is on its last legs. The almost-35-year-old tight end and five-time Pro Bowler told the Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane that realizing his days as a pro player are numbered is “humbling” and that he's enjoying becoming more of a leader than a regular on-field contributor with the Chicago Bears.
“It takes a big, humbling pill to humble yourself and realize where you are in your career and where you can be useful,” Graham said. “The game itself, I’ve got a great mental grasp on it. For me, it makes it more entertaining when I am helping other guys out.”
“When you’re able to then put this knowledge — route running and what I know about defenses and help out guys — it makes it fun. It makes every week fun, especially when you’ve got young guys who want to listen.”
Graham also explained how rewarding it is to mentor the younger players, namely Cole Kmet, a 22-year-old tight end in his second season. Kmet is third on the team in both receptions and receiving yards.
“I know I’ve got to be ready when my number’s called. But I know I also have a leadership role with these young guys and with my boy Cole, and getting him right and seeing his growth throughout this season is awesome. I celebrate each and every guy’s success on this team because I was there and I had many helping hands to get me where I am today.”
With only two catches and 39 receiving yards this season, it's clear that the Bears don't have a big use for Graham on the field. Off of it, though, he could be a great asset for a young, rebuilding offense, led by rookie quarterback Justin Fields, with his wisdom and passion for mentoring.