NFL Kicker Uses Jersey Swap Earnings To Support Pro-Military Group

Two football players swapped numbers and resulted in a substantial donation to an organization that helps military veterans.

New York Giants edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who was originally drafted from Oregon in the fifth round this spring, wore number 5. The rookie wanted to wear that same number in the pros, but had to pay veteran kicker Graham Gano a hefty $50,000 to have the honor of wearing that number (the payment occurred because the number is not within the specific number range allotted for defensive linemen).

Gano, while some would be rightly protective of his number, was willing to alter it to make a few extra dollars. He did not buy a new car or expensive clothes with the extra cash. Instead, Gano donated his earnings to Puppies Behind Bars, an organization that “trains incarcerated individuals to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders, as well as explosive-detection canines for law enforcement.”

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It was a very personal decision for the kicker to make a donation to this charity. Mark’s father was a U.S. Navy veteran for over 30 years. He also has siblings and other relatives who served in the military.

“I’ve seen the sacrifices that are made in those families, and also the traumatic events that happen that take a toll on some people’s lives,”Gano said. ”I feel like it was where the money that Kayvon was donating would be able to make the largest impact and help the most people throughout him giving that money.”

Being a good teammate to a rookie was another motivation for Gano to oblige Thibodeaux’s request, something that many veterans like Ryan Tanenhill are not willing to do.

“The opportunity to give to something is exciting, and the number is obviously very special to Kayvon,” Gano said. “While it is special to me as well, there’s a whole lot of meaning in that No. He is 5. It was my goal to be a great teammate as well as to help others through the entire process.

Gano was five years old when he joined New York Giants in 2020. His five-child family gave him support and love during this difficult period in his life. Due to injury to his non-kicking right leg, Gano had not played for New York in the past two years. Gano agreed to let the number go despite its significance. He wanted to have an impact as a rookie.

It is refreshing to see the NFL not be so self-centered. This also serves as a reminder of the fact that the NFL has some decent people who still believe in American values and play the game.

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