That's the biggest contract for a tight end in the history of the NFL. New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is the second highest, averaging $9,000,000 per year. The third highest is Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten, who averages $7,400,000. And the difference is even bigger when you look at guaranteed money.
Witten's contract actually guaranteed him more than Gronkowski ($13,532,000 and $13,170,000, respectively). So, Graham will average about $1 million more per year and almost $8,000,000 more guaranteed than the next two tight ends.
And that's just the tight ends! One of the disagreements between Graham and the Saints was whether he should be paid like a tight end or a wide receiver. The outcome? Both.
As I detailed above, he's the highest paid tight end; but he would also be tied for the 7th highest paid wide receiver (with Brandon Marshall) in the league.
Only six wide receivers earn more per season than Graham will under his new contract. Those names: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, and Vincent Jackson. There are even fewer receivers with more guaranteed money: Johnson, Fitzgerald, Wallace, Jackson. Both measures put Graham easily in the top 10 highest-paid receivers.
In four years, Graham has 301 receptions for 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns. So an elite pass-catcher is getting paid like other elite pass-catchers? Sounds good to me.
I'm talking about Team USA's World Cup match against Belgium. Yeah, that's right. Soccer.
Did you watch America lose 2-1 to that tiny European country? I hope you did, because it was amazing. Did it have the outcome we were all hoping for? Nope, not at all. But it was an eminently enjoyable match. One of the most thrilling sporting events I've watched all year.
The US goalie Tim Howard put on a masterful performance, blocking shots left, right, and center. While most of the US squad struggled, Howard was the bedrock the team rested on. Shot after shot, he punched and swatted and caught. The Belgians pressed and pressed, and Howard the goalie remained steadfast.
The score after the 90 minutes of regulation? 0-0. And I was on the edge of my seat for almost the entirety of it.
The Belgians were in control for most of the game, and it just felt like a matter of time before they scored. Sure enough, they did early in extra time (overtime). Then they scored again.
Many didn't expect them to advance to the Round of 16, but they did. Down 2-0 with under 15 minutes to play, the United States could have given up. They fought on, however. And what happened?
The US scored and was only one more goal away from tieing it up with time left. Many had given up hope (I know I had); and just like that, there was a renewed sense of optimism.
While Team USA was not able to score again, they played with a ton of heart. They fought til the very end. Was the ending disappointing? Sure, in a sense. But we should all be proud of their performance.
2-1 was the final score. And it was utterly riveting. Was it football, with scores like 28-21 (which, I remind you, is just 4-3)? Nope. Was it basketball, with teams scoring over 100 points? Nuh uh. It's a different sport, played a different way.
And if you didn't find it thrilling, you're crazy.
A close, hard-fought game, with your country mounting a comeback and staying in it until the very end? Everyone should be able to get behind that. I can't wait for the next World Cup.