Ravens cornerback Corey Graham, who grew up in Buffalo, went to college in New Hampshire, so it stands to reason he might have some good friends in attendance in Foxborough on Sunday when the Ravens face the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
But he knows they might not be cheering for him.
" All of my roommates were big-time New England Patriot fans in college," Graham said earlier this week, "and all of my friends still to this day are die-hard Patriots fans and Red Sox fans."
Graham seems to have made a lot of fans of his own recently, particularly after his performance at Denver last weekend, which included two interceptions -- one returned for a touchdown and another that set up the game-winning field goal.
His hometown newspaper described Graham as a "scalding-hot Buffalonian." Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote that Graham has become "a tremendous defensive force in the last half-season. As I wrote this week, I thought he was the best defender on the field in Denver last weekend."
That earned Graham a spot on perhaps the biggest stage of his career. He has appeared in one other conference championship game; in 2010, he was with the Bears when they reached the NFC title game, falling to Green Bay, 21-14.
Graham was a defensive back and special teams star at the University of New Hampshire, i.e. in the heart of the broad, northeastern swath that considers itself Patriots country.
"I know what it is like. They have die-hard fans out there," he said. "Obviously, you don’t want to lose against the Patriots, especially when all of my friends are going to be out there probably with their Patriots jerseys on. . It’s going to be a little different his week, but no matter who you are playing, you want to go out there and win. This is for all of the marbles to get to the Super Bowl, so this is ever bigger.”