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Corey Graham walks in Tasker's footsteps

Posted Mar 13, 2014

As a young, self proclaimed 'die-hard' Bills fan growing up in Buffalo during the Super Bowl era, new Bills CB Corey Graham looked up to no 90s Bills legends more so than Steve Tasker and Thurman Thomas.

FREE AGENT ROUNDUP

A look at the players the Bills have signed and lost in the NFL’s free-agency period, as well as their remaining free agents:

RE-SIGNED

TE Scott Chandler
K Dan Carpenter
TE Mike Caussin

FREE AGENTS SIGNED

CB Corey Graham (Ravens)
LB Keith Rivers (Giants)
OL Chris Williams (Rams)
LB Brandon Spikes (Patriots)
RB Anthony Dixon (49ers)

RELEASED

QB Kevin Kolb

UNSIGNED FREE AGENTS

DL Alex Carrington
S Jim Leonhard
LB Arthur Moats

As a budding football player growing up in Buffalo in the early ‘90s, Bills CB Corey Graham called himself a die-hard Bills fan.

It was easy, of course, to fall in love with a team like that. He headed to Orchard Park with family and friends often to watch Hall of Famers at work in his backyard.

But he didn’t yet know one day he’d be walking down the same tunnel playing for the same team.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” Graham said after signing with the Bills. “I grew up as a kid being a Buffalo Bills fan, watching Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, guys like Steve Tasker and Bruce Smith play, and I always had a dream of playing and being a Buffalo Bill. To come back there and have an opportunity to play there is like a dream come true to be honest with you. It’s unbelievable and feels like a dream.”

Though he couldn’t know his NFL path would lead him down theirs, he knew he admired their play and their hustle – specifically the play of running back Thurman Thomas and the hustle of special teamer Steve Tasker.

RELATED: Graham returns to his Buffalo roots

“I would say Thurman Thomas, but I also loved Steve Tasker too,” he said when asked to name his favorite. “It’s weird; most people would be like, ‘Why would you like Steve Tasker?’ I just liked how hard he played and how hard he worked, things like that. I like to pride myself on working hard and things like that, so Steve Tasker is one of my favorites.”

Tasker laughed and was flattered to hear that he was a ‘surprising’ favorite of the newest Bill. Having grown up in a town without an NFL team, he harped on what it must be like to play for the team you’ve always felt connected with.

“It’s a thrill for the kid to be able to play for his hometown,” said Tasker. “People in Buffalo don’t forget their people. I’m sure the kid is going to get a great reception. There’s no question, it’s got to be more special for him playing here in Buffalo.”

“It might be a bit of relief,” said Thomas. “He must be saying, ‘I’m one of these guys now. I’m a Buffalo Bill. I grew up here and seeing these guys, I’m a part of it now.’ That’s exciting for him. Now he can see my picture and Steve’s picture all the time and think, ‘Maybe if I play well, I can get my picture up there too.’ It’s great.”

Neither Tasker nor Thomas has had the chance to meet Graham yet but they say they’re looking forward to it in the coming weeks when he settles into town.

“It’s funny because he’s part of the fraternity now,” said Tasker. “It’s not just that he gets to meet us. He’s a teammate now. You’re a Buffalo Bill. You’re a part of the team no matter what generation you are.”

Graham admitted it was Tasker’s hustle he admired, not his special teams role, while he was growing up and excelling through Turner-Carroll High School as a running back. But Graham is now regarded as a solid special teamer, a fate Tasker only praises.

“He’s right,” Tasker agreed about special teams not being the typical childhood dream. “But you always grew up wanting to play and wanting to play a long time and when you find out the best way to do that is chasing kicks, you do it. Kudos to him for realizing that and finding his niche in the league.”