Photo Courtesy: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
(News-Press) Earnest Graham, who has been retired for two years from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is contemplating a new career as coach of the North Fort Myers High School football team.
Graham, 33 and a 1998 Mariner High School graduate, said he was considering North Fort Myers High principal Dale Houchin's invitation to apply for the school's head coaching vacancy.
Today marks the deadline for applying. As of Thursday morning, Houchin said he had received 26 applications.
Houchin and Graham have talked to each other about the job, but Graham has yet to have an official interview.
"You make an exception for someone who brings so much to the table like Earnest Graham," Houchin said of potentially hiring someone who would not be a teacher in the school. None of the Lee County high school head football coaches this season were from outside their respective schools. Brian Makar resigned from the job last month.
Graham owns an insurance company franchise in Fort Myers, set for a grand opening in January. He said he could work his business obligations around his coaching career.
"That school has a great history and has great community support," Graham said of North High. "I do want to have an impact on the quality of football in Southwest Florida. I don't know yet how I want that to happen. I do feel like I have something to give to the area."
Houchin worked at Mariner as an assistant principal during Graham's time there as a student.
The idea for Houchin to reach out to Graham came from a dinner conversation between Houchin and his wife Lori, who taught at Mariner.
Lori Houchin suggested to her husband to offer the job to Graham.
"He's more than just a football coach," Dale Houchin said. "He is such a man of integrity.
"Earnest is a genuinely, good, honest, sincere person. He's the kind of person that I would want my son or daughter to play for because of his integrity. He's such a great role model. You couldn't ask for a better role model."