This week, the Buffalo Bills will be without starting tight end Charles Clay for the first time this season. The team's leader in receptions is out with a back injury. That means third-year pro Chris Gragg will be featured this week at Washington, a huge opportunity for someone once on the bubble in training camp. The 6-foot-3, 244-pounder was originally drafted by the Bills in the seventh round of the 2013 draft out of Arkansas.
In this week's Getting to Know, Gragg discusses his love for music, being extremely ticklish, the versatility he brings to the position, what type of actor he'd be and which tattoo means the most to him.
He has nine receptions for 115 yards on the season.
Where are you from? Warren, Arkansas is my hometown.
What was it like there and how it make you? Man, I'm from a small town. It's in the southeast part, close to the Mississippi River. It's a small country town of about 7,000 people maximum. My graduating high school class had 99 people in it. So I'm one of those type of guys.
What did you do for fun there? Anything we could find, from hunting to doing music. I do music in the free time. Reading. Movies, I'm a real big movie guy.
Do you play any instruments? Yeah, I can play a little bit of everything really. A little bit of piano, a little drums, saxophone, too.
What can you play on the piano? I'm probably rusty on it. I can play a little bit. If you give me a song to learn, I can learn it. It wouldn't take me long.
How did you get into that? Real young, I took piano lessons. My parents were the type of parents who wanted me to do everything to see what I liked, and I liked doing everything. With sports to other activities, I did it all.
What kind of music do you like to listen to? I like rap, R&B. I like a little country, too.
Any rapper you particularly like? My favorite rapper is Lil Wayne. Young Jeezy, Rick Ross.
What else do you do in your free time in Buffalo? I go to the movies a lot in Buffalo and really just hang with teammates.
What's something people don't know about you? I'm very ticklish. A lot of people don't know. I'm very sensitive to tickling.
Any particular spot? Everywhere. When I was young getting haircuts, they'd use to have to hold me in the chair.
Still to this day? Nothing like that. I can fight it now. But I'm still, like on the inside like...
How does a guy who's so ticklish mash into 250- and 300-pounders for a living? It's like when your mind focuses on that, you don't focus on it. But just laying around, with a girl or something, I'm very sensitive.
That must be tough with a girlfriend. It is, it is. If I'm not in the mood for that, I tell her to (go away).
If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Ohh, I could meet someone dead or alive. Hmm. (Long pause) I'd want to meet Michael Jackson.
What would you ask him? I was a big Michael Jackson fan growing up. I just want to talk to him, really. Just be around him. Go through one of his days. Him in his studio or him working on a dance routine for a show or something.
If you weren't a football player, what would you be? I'd want to be an actor.
What kind of actor? I could do anything — drama, action, comedy, anything.
So are we talking Denzel Washington? Yeah, we're talking Denzel, Idris Elba, that type of stuff.
Put yourself in the move — what would be the plot? Like Denzel in "Training Day." I could do that.
So you'd want to be a villain? A hero? I feel like I could do both. Either one. I feel like I could play Batman or something or the Joker if I wanted to, too.
Is this something you'll get into down the road? Hopefully, hopefully.
Right now, you've got a great opportunity at your position. How are you taking it on? Just preparing like I have him. Making sure I'm ready, making sure I know my assignments. Go out there and play confident and play fast.
Early in the year, there were a lot of players at your position and a lot of unknowns on if you'd make the team so what got you through all that to re-prove yourself again and make it? Really just doing the same thing and taking it day by day. Making sure I know my job and get my job done well to the best of my ability. There's been a lot that I've been through, especially this year. It's my third year here and it was probably one of the toughest ones. But I feel like I bring a lot to the table that a lot of people can't do. I'm very similar to Charles in playing a lot of positions. Just going back to the Eagles game, I played everywhere from receiver to offensive tackle. I don't feel like a lot of people in the league can do that.
The average career is three years, so what prepared you for this unpredictable NFL lifestyle? Really just my life. Playing sports, I never thought of myself as a football player until college. I played every sport growing up. Whatever was in season was what I was playing. So when I became a football player in college I was a receiver, then moved to tight end and was just always somebody they didn't say was the best. I've always kind of been that middle guy needing to prove myself.
What type of temperament do you really need through all of that uncertainty? Kind of a nonchalant attitude. You can't get too high, you can't get too low. When something goes bad, you can't get too down. When something goes good, you can't get too high. You have to stay focused.
Out of all of your tattoos, which one means the most to you? Probably this one, I have my grandmother's name on a cross and when she was born and when she died. She raised me the first four years of my life so I lived with her growing up. She just really instilled a lot of the values I still live with today.
What would those values be? Treat everybody with respect. Treat others how you want to be treated. That's one of the main things.
So she died in 2010? Yeah.
Seeing that every day, does that help you out? It does, it does. She was somebody who always had my back. If I was going through one of those tough times, she always motivated me. If I was doing something good, she'd be the first one to praise me.
Did you guys keep talking on the phone through college? Yeah, she'd encourage me and do things like that.
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