Daily Sports Smile: Giants draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux makes $50,000 donation for No. 5 jersey
Graham Gano was waiting for the phone call.
It came from Dion Dargin, the New York Giants' director of football communications. And it was all about negotiating a number swap for the Kayvon Thibodeaux — the Giants' first-round pick.
"It was expected for sure," Gano told the Giants' official website.
When the dust settled, Thibodeaux, the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, spent $50,000 in the form of a charitable donation to take Gano's No. 5 jersey ahead of his rookie season.
Thibodeaux's donation went to Puppies Behind Bars, an organization that provides service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders, in addition to explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. The dogs are trained by incarcerated individuals, according to the charity's website.
"When (Kayvon) said he was willing to give to that, I can be No. 9 and maybe in 10-15 years when he retires and I'm still kicking, I can get No. 5 back," Gano said. "The opportunity to give to something is exciting, and the number is obviously very special to Kayvon. While it is special to me as well, there's a whole lot of meaning in that No. 5 to him.
"I just wanted to be a good teammate and also be able to support others throughout the whole process."
Gano, who began wearing No. 5 in honor of his five children, also wore No. 9 during his time with the Carolina Panthers. Thibodeaux wore No. 5 when he became the first defensive player to earn unanimous All-America status in Oregon history.
"We get to play a kid's game for a living," Gano said. "And it's an honor to be able to wear that uniform, no matter what number is on it. I'm just thankful to have the opportunity. I'm definitely excited to be wearing nine again — but, at the end of the day, almost having football taken away from me for a long period of time and potentially my career at one point ... I'm just thankful to be playing the game."