The Buffalo Bills stepped up their interest in cornerback Corey Graham while he was meeting Wednesday with coaches from the Washington Redskins.
The Buffalo native said he could not resist a good deal from his hometown team. Graham, whom the Bills signed to bolster their cornerback and their special teams units, described Thursday how his four-year, free-agent deal went down.
“It’s weird because I was in the middle of a film session with the coaches in Washington,” Graham said on a conference call from Baltimore. “And someone comes in and says, ‘Your agent wants you to call him, like, right now.’ … So I called my agent and he tells me about the situation with Buffalo. They were very serious.
“They did their thing,” Graham said of the contract talks between the Bills and his Indianapolis-based representative, Buddy Baker.
“Then my agent called me, and I was in my hotel room, and I was getting ready to go to dinner with Washington.
“To have an opportunity to go back home and play for the Buffalo Bills and in my hometown, it was a no-brainer for me,” Graham continued. “So I ended up … not even going to dinner with the Washington Redskins’ coaches or anything. I had to cancel everything.”
Graham, 28, is a former three-sport star at Turner-Carroll High School. He played his first four seasons with the Chicago Bears and made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer in 2011.
He spent the past two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens as, alternately, the No. 2 or No. 3 cornerback. He was a key player in the Ravens’ run to the Super Bowl title two years ago.
Graham said he always dreamed of playing for the Bills. “It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” he said. “I grew up as a kid being a Buffalo Bills fan, watching Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, guys like Steve Tasker and Bruce Smith playing. And I always had a dream of being a Buffalo Bill. To come back there and have an opportunity to play there is like a dream come true.”
Who is Graham’s favorite all-time Bill? “Probably Thurman Thomas,” he said.
“But I also loved Steve Tasker, too. It’s weird. Most people would be like, why would you like Steve Tasker? I just like how hard he played, how hard he worked, things like that. I like to pride myself on working hard.”
Graham’s parents, Carey and Patricia, still live in Buffalo, and he has had a big cheering section each of the two times he played in Ralph Wilson Stadium as an NFL player. (He came with Chicago in 2010 and Baltimore last season.)
“I’m pretty sure when we played the Bills when I was on another team, my family, they were all rooting for me but they were rooting for the Bills to win,” Graham said. “That’s how die-hard they were. So it means a lot for me to have this opportunity.”