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What Happened to Earnest Graham and Where is He Now?
AP Photo/Brian Blanco

Running backs come and go in the NFL, frequently flaming out after just a few seasons. Earnest Graham was able to have a nine-year career and provide some great moments during his time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Following his retirement, Graham became the head coach of multiple high school teams, including North Fort Myers High School and the Evangelical Christian School.

Earnest Graham at Florida 

Earnest Graham joined the University of Florida Gators after an incredibly successful career at Mariner High School in Naples. After four years on the varsity team, he became Lee County’s all-time leading rusher with 5,710 yards.

The transition from high school football to college football can be tricky, especially for running backs, but Graham didn’t seem to struggle aside from a 2001 knee injury.

Throughout his tenure with the Gators, he scored 33 touchdowns, the third-highest total in school history.

The NFL became a realistic possibility for him after his senior year, during which Graham rushed for 1,085 yards. However, he would have to enter the league as an undrafted free agent.

The Bucs came calling and signed Graham for the 2003 season.

Earnest Graham on the Bucs 

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Though Graham was on the team in 2003, he did not emerge from Jon Gruden’s practice squad until the 2004 season. For his first three years on the field, he predominantly worked as a fullback or special teams blocker, but he would get his chance to shine in 2007 when starting running back Cadillac Williams and backup Michael Pittman went down with injuries.

Graham certainly succeeded. He scored 10 touchdowns during the regular season and even reached the end zone during a playoff game that year. He had a sizeable role on the 2008 squad as well and became the lead back following an injury to LeGarrette Blount in 2011.

For the most part, Graham was a serviceable football player who was called upon when needed most. His last season was in 2011. His career ended following a severe ankle injury that also included some Achilles tendon damage.

Earnest Graham Now

Graham entered a new phase of his career in 2013 when he was named the coach of North Fort Myers High School. The Red Knights turned into a formidable football team under Graham’s leadership, clinching regular-season titles and reaching several regional semifinals.

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He resigned after four seasons, and following a stint coaching Dunbar Little League, he made his return to the sidelines as the head coach of the Evangelical Christian School in 2019.

The Sentinels are not exactly shooting up the rankings, but to Graham, winning football games is secondary to mentoring his team. The COVID-19 pandemic has been scary for everyone, but it helps to have a leader like Graham that has his team’s best interests at heart.

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Earnest Graham was able to use his NCAA and NFL experiences to become a great coach at the high school level. He just missed the Bucs’ Super Bowl run, so his best chance at winning a championship might be from the sidelines.

MORE: Mark Brunell Returned to Jacksonville, And Found His Calling as a Coach

Author placeholder image About the author:
Matt is a recent graduate of New York University with a degree in Sports Management. He is a passionate New York Yankees, New York Islanders, and Minnesota Vikings fan. He also has a podcast about minor league baseball called "On the Farm."
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