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NFL veteran Jimmy Graham, crew plan to row across Arctic Ocean

Tight end Jimmy Graham spent last season with the New Orleans Saints. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI
Tight end Jimmy Graham spent last season with the New Orleans Saints. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Longtime NFL tight end Jimmy Graham will be the lead navigator of a four person crew that plans to row more than 600 miles nonstop across the frigid Arctic Ocean in 2025, he announced on social media.

Graham announced his "Arctic Challenge" on Monday on Instagram and X.

"The impact of the Arctic Challenge goes far beyond the four athletes and the Arctic Ocean," Graham wrote on X. "With the mission to inspire young minds, the team aims to challenge the next generation to push beyond their limiting beliefs and chart their own course."

The mission is supported by charities that support disadvantaged youths.

Graham will be joined by captain and former Navy SEAL Andrew Tropp, project manager and former Team USA rower Hannah Huppi, and equipment manager and former Team USA and Switzerland rower John Huppi in the 9.6-meter, man-powered boat.

Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham has not said if he plans to retire from the NFL. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI
Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham has not said if he plans to retire from the NFL. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI

The 621.3-mile journey will start in July 2025 in Tromso, Norway. It is expected to take 10 to 20 days and end in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, a small island north of Norway and east of Greenland.

Longyearbyen is the world's northernmost known settlement.

Tight end Jimmy Graham scored five touchdowns last season for the New Orleans Saints. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI
Tight end Jimmy Graham scored five touchdowns last season for the New Orleans Saints. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI

The team will try to set a world record for the first mixed-gendered crew to row across the Arctic Ocean. It also will attempt to set the record for the fastest such journey, if the participants can beat the current mark of 15 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes.

The crew will alternate in two-hour shifts, 24 hours each day in the carbon fiber RX45 vessel, which has two cabins and is valued at more than $100,000. Crew members are to sleep a maximum of 90 minutes at a time and aim to consume up to 8,000 daily calories.

Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham played for the Chicago Bears in 2020 and 2021, but did not play in 2022. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI
Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham played for the Chicago Bears in 2020 and 2021, but did not play in 2022. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI

The challenge website says they expect to combat "polar storms, brutal temperatures, and wildlife encounters, all while pushing the limits of human endurance."

"Using this challenge to inspire young people is very meaningful for me," Graham said in a news release. "As someone who has experienced homelessness, I recognize the importance of not letting your circumstances define your future.

"Through this challenge, we will showcase the power of determination, teamwork and resilience, and I am thrilled to use it as a platform for empowering kids to pursue their wildest dreams."

Graham, 37, spent last season with the New Orleans Saints. He caught just six passes for 39 yards, but scored four times in 13 appearances. He caught 719 passes for 8,545 yards and 89 scores in 197 career appearances. Graham, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and 2013 All-Pro, has not said if he plans to retire.

The 6-foot-7, 265-pound tight end, who also is a cyclist and pilot, said he plans to train for his newest challenge by riding his bike and performing yoga.

"We will also do sea trials and shorter missions with the RX45 in the Gulf [of Mexico] and some crossings through the Bahamas," Graham wrote on X.