The New York Jets announced today that punter Ben Graham has signed to a contract extension. The announcement was made by Jetsâ€™ General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.Â
In his first NFL season, Graham punted 74 times for a gross average of 43.7 yards and a net average of 37.9 yards. Both of those averages rated sixth-best in the AFC. Graham also registered a 3-to-1 ratio (18-6) of punts inside the 20-yard line to touchbacks.
â€œThe Jets have been an outstanding organization from the moment I arrived,â€? said Graham. â€œThe team made an offer and we just said, ‘We’ll take it.’ I’m excited that I’m going to be punting for the New York Jets in the best city in America.â€?Â
Graham, 32, signed with the Jets last year after playing 12 season of Australian Rules Football, where he was one of the biggest stars in the Australian Football League. The former Geelong standout, who also represented Australia in some international competitions, was originally scouted and worked out by current Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini during a visit to Australia in 1997. While Graham remained in his native country, he was intrigued enough by the possibility that he set making an NFL roster as a goal of his upon completion of his Australian Rules Football career.Â
In 2005, Graham earned the distinction of becoming the oldest rookie in the National Football League to make an opening day NFL roster. It is believed that former wide receiver Vince Papale, was the previous oldest rookie to ever make an NFL team when he did so in 1976 with the Philadelphia Eagles. Papale, who was 30 years old on Sept. 12, 1976, which coincidentally enough was the Eaglesâ€™ opening day that season. Papale, incidentally, is the subject of a movie called â€œInvincibleâ€? Walt Disney Pictures, which is due out this summer.