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Former Seminole gives up number to Kayvon Thibodeaux for charity donation

The recent NFL Draft pick will continue to wear No. 5 in the NFL after making a deal with Graham Gano.

The New York Giants brought in a player during the draft last month who many expect to make an instant impact in the NFL, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Following a standout collegiate career at Oregon where Thibodeaux donned No. 5, his attachment to the number grew when he was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Giants.

Naturally, he wanted to continue wearing the same digit in New York but there was one speed bump. Veteran kicker Graham Gano has locked down No. 5 over the last two seasons. Graham was actually watching when Thibodeaux was selected in the first round and instantly knew he'd want his number.

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"I was like, man, I guarantee if we draft him, he's going to want my number," Gano said according to Giants.com. "It was expected for sure."

After some deliberation following the draft, the two came to an agreement. Gano would hand over No. 5 in exchange for Thibodeaux donating $50,000 to Puppies Behind Bars, which is an organization that helps provide service dogs for wounded veterans and first responders, as well as training explosive-detection canines for law enforcement.

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"When he said he was willing to give to that, I can be No. 9 and maybe in 10-15 years when he retires and I'm still kicking, I can get No. 5 back," said Gano. "The opportunity to give to something is exciting, and the number is obviously very special to Kayvon. 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."

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The idea was first sparked during a Giants home game where a service dog was presented to a soldier during a timeout. Gano comes from a military background and has various family members in the armed services. His father served in the U.S. Navy for over 30 years.

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An interesting piece of Puppies Behind Bars is that the dogs are actually trained by incarcerated individuals. At eight weeks old, the puppies enter the prison and live with their caregivers for 24 months. According to its mission statement, as the puppies "mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs, their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it. PBB programs bring the love and healing of dogs to hundreds of individuals every year. The dogs bring hope and pride to their raisers, and independence and security to those they serve."

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"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," said Gano. "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."

Entering his 13th season in the NFL, Gano has learned that it's important to make an impact beyond what he does on Sundays. He's hoping this gesture to Thibodeaux, who has done a lot of community work of his own, will only inspire him to give back throughout his career.

"As NFL players, we've been given such a great platform to make a difference in the community. There are so many people, kids and families, that look up to us as professional football players that whenever you're given an opportunity to make a difference, I feel like you have to jump on it and make the most of it," Gano said. "I also understand this job won't last forever, so I want to make sure we're making the most out of it while we can and also teach these younger guys that it is a privilege to be able to play in the NFL. At the same time, whenever you have a chance to give back, make sure you take full advantage of it and make a positive impact in other people's lives as well."

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With No. 5 off of the table, Gano will likely return to the No. 9 that he wore during his seven years in Carolina. The former Seminole has been a steady presence throughout his long tenure in the league, connecting on 284 of 338 field-goal attempts (84%) with a long of 63-yards over the course of his time with three teams. He's also converted 344 of his 361 extra-point attempts (95.3%). Gano has been even better since joining the Giants over the last two years, knocking in 92.3% of his field goals.

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