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Kayvon Thibodeaux didn’t want to lose his No. 5 now that he’s with the New York Giants.
But instead of simply buying it off of Graham Gano, something many rookies have to do upon arrival to the league, the longtime kicker had a better idea.
Gano had the former Oregon standout and Giants rookie donate $50,000 to Puppies Behind Bars, a charity that helps train incarcerated individuals to raise service dogs for veterans and first responders. Now, Thibodeaux gets No. 5, and Gano jumps up to No. 9.
"I feel like it was where the money that Kayvon was donating would be able to make the largest impact and help the most people throughout him giving that money," Gano said, via the Giants. "The whole idea behind the number five being special to myself and being special to Kayvon was being able to help five people get the five dogs and be able to make an impact in five people's lives for the better. That was the whole goal behind that. I'm really excited about it."
Puppies Behind Bars sends puppies into prison at eight weeks old, where they’ll stay with “their incarcerated puppy-raisers” for about two years. Then the dogs will move on to work as service dogs with wounded veterans and first responders.
Gano will enter his 13th season in the league this fall and his third with the Giants, who signed him after more than a year off from the league after his seven-year run with the Carolina Panthers — where he also wore No. 9.
He missed just four field goals last year and made all of his extra-point attempts, and set a franchise record with 37 field goals made in a row.
Thibodeaux, who the Giants took with the No. 5 overall pick, knew that it would cost a lot to actually land the number.
"It's funny, you guys just know, this is real now, we're talking real numbers," Thibodeaux said during his introductory news conference, via ESPN. "When you tell somebody 250, I don't know what 250 means. You forget all the zeros behind it. Things are a lot different now.
"But yeah, he's a great guy and we obviously are going to build a relationship, and I'm going to be able to really get into it and we're going to talk about it."
Though Graham isn’t walking away with a check for himself, both he and Thibodeaux are clearly happy with how things worked out.
"The opportunity to give to something is exciting, and the number is obviously very special to Kayvon,” Gano said, via the Giants. “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."