Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham recently went on a series of intricate skydiving jumps with the U.S. Military Academy’s Golden Knights parachute team, and video of his experience released last week.
In a video shared by the YouTube channel Whistle and presented by USAA, the pro-football player joined the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“When I was younger, I always thought I’d be a pilot,” Graham said. “I grew up on military bases. My entire childhood I would always hear the big jets go by or the helicopters and, you know, would always wish that that was me.”
The Army Golden Knights are the service’s official demonstration and competition parachute team.
In the video, Army Sgt. 1st Class Blake Gaynor, explained that the Golden Knights were formed in 1959 and by 1961 had become the Army’s official aerial demonstration team and officially adopted the name “Golden Knights” in 1962.
“Being a Golden Knight means being an ambassador for the Army,” Golden Knights demonstration team member Staff Sgt. Dustin Gebhardt said. “We connect America’s public with America’s Army.”
In the video, the Golden Knights bring Graham in for training before the jump.
“Our end goal today for Jimmy is to basically see if that teamwork aspect that he has playing professional football is going to apply to working with us in our group dynamic,” Gaynor said.
Graham said, “I think the skills and the traits I can bring are the ability to process information fairly quickly and to make the right decisions in a confident way.”
Graham has had some skydiving experience before teaming up with the Golden Knights, and had been on 58 prior skydiving jumps.
“I’ve never jumped with a military team before,” Graham said. “You know I’m excited for it, I’m excited for the challenge. More than anything I’m excited for the camaraderie.”
Graham said jumping with the Golden Knights brought up the same feelings he had in his first game in the National Football League.
Graham had gone to the University of Miami on a basketball scholarship but had played a single season of college football before being recruited by the NFL.
“I had ten games under my belt as a football player and all of a sudden I was a professional athlete,” Graham said. “So [skydiving with the Golden Knights] kind of reminds me of being in a space where I’m a little bit over my head and, you know, I’ve got to put my head down and listen and learn.”
“The feeling when you jump out of the plane is indescribable. It becomes this, you know, beautiful ballet,” Graham said. “It’s fun, it’s aggressive, it’s fast and you’re basically riding on this magic carpet.”
Graham and the Golden Knights team went through three different jumps, with the first confirming Graham’s ability to skydive, the second with Graham and the team jumping in a formation and the third with Graham and the team performing even more intricate formations and more team members joining in the jump.
In an Instagram post, Graham said he “Had a chance to jump with the best in the world, the @armygoldenknights. I Could Do That w/ @usaa & @whistlesports #adcomplete video is linked in my bio check it out!”
Gaynor said, “We always raise the soldier to meet the standard, never lower the standard to meet the soldier.”
Gebhardt said Jimmy fit well with the Golden Knights team. “Jimmy meets that, as far as teamwork is considered, and I’m positive that with more jumps he would meet that standard as a Golden Knight.”