Q&A: Harvard Football's Benjamin Graeff
Benjamin Graeff is a senior defensive end for the football team. The Canton, Ohio native has batted injuries throughout his Harvard career, including early this year during the preseason when he missed time. When healthy, Graeff has given opposing offensive coordinators fits. His signature game came against Cornell last year when he sacked Big Red quarterback Jeff Matthews four times here at the Stadium.
"Coming off an injury in 2010 we were not sure what to expect from Ben this year - but one thing was for sure; Ben is one of our toughest, most physical players on our team and his leadership is critical regardless of what his on-field role is." - Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football.
Q: What is your concentration?
Q: What do you hope to do in life once football is finished?
A: Currently, I'm very unemployed. I would eventually like to head to business and one day start my own company. Alex Gedeon, Chris Lorditch and I are always brainstorming new ideas, Gedeon has a highly confidential notebook of his ideas.
Q: What's your favorite Harvard team to watch as a fan?
A: I love watching the men's and women's basketball teams. Brogan Berry is another Ohio native so I've always loved obnoxiously chanting "O-H-I-O" in the middle of Cambridge, Mass.
Q: If you could play for another team at Harvard, which would it be?
A: Harvard lacrosse. I used to have a killer power cradle and I've always wanted to be a "lax brah." I'm also close with a lot of those guys and like where the program is heading.
Q: What are the best parts of being a student athlete at Harvard?
A: Competing and conversing with the best and brightest athletes in the world. Have you ever talked politics with Hunter Thorton or Josue Ortiz? Discussed hedging your long term market exposure with Reid McCann? Talked fantasy football with Dan Minamide? Or talked surfing the biggest swells breaking off the west shore with Kevin "Shocka" Murphy? The interests and intelligence that walks through the athletic training room everyday are boundless and truly impressive.
Q: What are the hardest parts of being a student athlete at Harvard?
A: I'd say the hardest part is balancing the academic rigors with the demands of a Division I college sport. I know a lot of guys start their (non-football) days at 9 a.m. and don't finish up until after 8 p.m., and that's disregarding things like homework, eating, and general hygiene.
Q: Who do you most enjoy lining up against in practices?
A: Aaron Spisak. Never before have I seen someone so happy to slam their head into 250 pound moving objects.
Q: What's the best part about a home football day?
A: The pregame intensity that comes with playing in Harvard Stadium. And the bells on third down.
Q: Choose one of each: The song you are most proud of, and least proud of, on your iPod.
A: Most proud: You Don't Know How it Feels- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Least Proud: Eiffel 65- Blue (Da Ba Dee). Note, fifth grade was awesome.
Q: Who has the best nickname on the team and why?
A: Adam Riegel: The Penguin from batman. No explanation necessary, have you seen that hair? It screams Danny DeVito from Batman Returns.
Q: Do you have a nickname?
A: Grizzle. The D-Line gave me the name sometime early in the year. I think it has something to do with two excesses: body hair and age.
Q: What do you think of when you hear Harvard's mission statement of "Education through Athletics?"
A: I've learned intangible character traits which I believe cannot be taught in the classroom environment. Competitive athletics force you to deal with failures and setbacks and teach you to battle through the most difficult adversity. I believe my successes in life will be highly influenced by the lessons I've learned through college athletics.
Q: How has playing football at Harvard better prepared you for life?
A: Harvard football has introduced me to the most outstanding individuals I've ever met. It has taught me how sacrifice, perseverance, belief in family, and good old hard work will lead to illimitable success. It's also taught me to never lose your "yab".
Q: What is your best moment on the football field?
A: My best moment has to be setting the single game sack record against Cornell last year. Four years of work finally culminated on that day.
Q: What is the best facility in which you have played?
A: For road games, I really like playing at Lafayette. They have awesome facilities and I always enjoy the long road trips in our "Peter Pan War Caravan"- Alex Gedeon.
Q: Where are your favorite places to eat in the square?
A: Felipes. Super carnitas, refried beans, rice, lettuce, salsa, gauc, sour cream, and hot sauce…oh my gawh.
Q: If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
A: Devin Saxon. Does anyone know what it's like to be that cool? The kid is the nicest guy on the team and only dislikes one person: Matt Lunati (Long Story). Devin is also one of the most committed guys on the team and has unwavering positivity.
Q: If you could do anything for a day without any cost considerations, what would it be?
A: Wing suit flying in Finland. Diving off cliffs and flying down the most majestic mountains on the planet is definitely on my bucket list.
Q: Best and worst football movies of all-time?
A: Best: Little Giants. Worst: Gridiron Gang
Q: Of your teammates, who is most likely to 1) become President of the United State, 2) join the front office of a major sports franchise 3) join the circus 4) fall off the face of the earth? Why?
1.) Alex Sarkisian: Smoother than Collier's hair and one of the most intelligent and introspective guys I know.
2.) Devin Saxon: see previous question. He'll be running the Red Sox in 10 years.
3.) Cam Brate: "230 solid" biggest clown on the team.
4.) Grant Sickle: he still thinks the earth is flat…