Ahmad

Bluefield’s own... New York Giants’ running back Ahmad Bradshaw accepts a Graham High School jersey bearing the No. 2 that he wore while playing for the G-Men. Making the presentation is Graham football coach Doug Marrs, left, and Graham principal John O’Neal.

BLUEFIELD, Va. — On Saturday, it became official. No player will ever wear the number 2 for Graham High School on the gridiron again.

The jersey was retired as part of a ceremony at the high school to honor Ahmad Bradshaw, the Graham standout who played a key role in the New York Giants’ triumphant run to win Super Bowl XLII.

Among the speakers Saturday evening were state Senator Phillip P. Puckett, Virginia Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark, Bluefield, Virginia Vice-Mayor Rick Taylor, Graham principal John O’Neal and Graham head football coach Doug Marrs.

“You know what, man, it’s a blessing to have this opportunity and to be a part of this,” Bradshaw said. “It’s a blessing for me and it’s a blessing for my family and Graham High School.”

Prior to the ceremony, Taylor discussed what Bradshaw’s accomplishments meant to the town and O’Neal discussed what they meant to the school.

“To have Ahmad and all of his success and see on the roster of the New York Giants to have Bluefield, Virginia and the publicity it puts out and the efforts that he has put in to accomplish the goals he has,” Taylor said, “it’s just a wonderful experience and it’s one that the town cannot pass up as far as being able to recognize one of their own.”

“It gives the kids, student-athletes coming through Graham High School, hope that they too can achieve and gives them something to strive for,” O’Neal said. “And realize that a student from a small high school in a small town has a chance.”

“It just means the best for me to represent this high school and to represent the town of Bluefield, Virginia,” Bradshaw said. “It just means so much to me to do this and for them to give me this opportunity, it’s just a blessing.”

In addition to the jersey retirement, the Bluefield, Va. town council unveiled a sign commemorating Bradshaw’s accomplishment with the Giants. They also presented him with a framed proclamation from the town council.

The game captivated Four Seasons Country in a way that few events have before or since. Bradshaw aided the Giants in an inspiring performance.

“I guess for the first time in a Super Bowl we had one of our own, a local person that has even played in it,” Taylor said. “And he did so well and they were able to pull off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. It was a thrill to watch.”

As the principal at Graham, O’Neal readies himself for many occasions. But this one threw him for a loop.

“It’s not something that you prepare for very often,” O’Neal said. “You know how to do graduation or reception or different things, but never to honor one of your own for playing in the Super Bowl. We’re honoring Ahmad for his athletic accomplishments, what it means for us here at Graham High School and as far as the school’s concerned it’s a pleasure.”

For Marrs, the night was special, yet incomplete.

“Even though I was one of his coaches, coach (Glynn) Carlock would have loved to have seen everything that has transpired over the past couple of years,” Marrs said. “It’s bittersweet in that regard.”

For Crockett-Stark, the night was about honoring a young man with the hope that he would pass on his good fortune to others.

“I’m always glad when someone succeeds at his tender young age,” Crockett-Stark said. “I think with that wonderful success is going to come some responsibilities as a man to maybe hone his skills further and to help others along the way as he evidently was helped with good mentors and people that believed in him.”

Bradshaw is proud to represent Bluefield. As long as he is in the National Football League he will continue to represent the town with pride.

“That’s my point to where I am in my career now is to just keep representing where I’m from and my family and different things,” Bradshaw said. “It’s just helpful for me and the town of Bluefield, Virginia and also Graham High School to be a part of this.”

—Contact Jed Lockett

at jlockett@bdtonline.com

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