Maybe it's a good thing that this season the New York Jets have their training facilities housed within the expansive Hofstra University campus at Hempstead, Long Island. The season has been a disaster for the Jets - plagued by injuries, they have gone through five quarterbacks and staggered to a 3-11 record. So the fact that they are hours away from the hustle and bustle of New York City has meant that, to some degree at least, they have escaped being savaged by the city's media. But one good story to come from the season has been the arrival of a rookie punter from Australia named Ben Graham. Signed for around US$500,000, and the oldest opening-day rookie when, at age 31, he took the field against Kansas City on September 11, Graham ranks among the top 10 punters in the NFL and is closing in on a single season record for the Jets - his punting average of 38.9 yards is within one yard of the team's all-time record set back in 1965. Back in his homeland, Graham was a household name. In 12 seasons for Geelong in the Australian Football League staring from 1992, the 1.96-metre Graham played 219 games, won the club's best-and-fairest award in 1999, and was captain from 2000 to 2002. He had entered a long-kicking competition run by the league in 1997 and lost on the final kick to the Melbourne Football Club's Darren Bennett. Bennett took the first prize - return tickets to the US - and tried out for the San Diego Chargers. Graham was happy to forge his career in the AFL but kept one eye on Bennett while that player played his way into two Pro Bowls and the NFL's team of the 1990s while with the Chargers; he has recently been re-signed by the Minnesota Vikings. When the 2004 AFL season finished, Geelong were keen to keep Graham around. But the Jets gave him a call, as they had at the end of every season since 1997. 'I think it was a surprise to many when I did decide to come over here,' says Graham. 'I think, at the end of 2004, the people at Geelong just thought I would sign for another year. But at that stage I really was looking to my future, to how long I had left in the game. 'When people are putting so much time and effort into building plans to take a team to a grand final, and you are part of those plans, and then you walk away, they can get shitty. But you just have to deal with that and move on. 'I knew I had at least one season left. But coming over here, it has been going so well, I know I can continue punting until I am 40.' Graham has settled into life in the US, though there was an initial culture shock. One story he likes to tell is of his first day of practice with the Jets, when he turned up with his own bag of gear, not knowing that in the heady world of the NFL a player's every whim is catered for, and then asked after training 'what do you blokes do now?', only to be met by stunned silence from teammates who had no idea whether 'blokes' was an insult or not. For Graham the transition has been made all the more easy by the fact he has been able to find a quiet place to settle down, with his wife and two young daughters. 'If I was a single guy, the decision to come over here would have been easy,' he says. 'But you have to factor your family in and it really would never have happened without their full support. With his children settled down in school, Graham has been able to focus fully on his role with the Jets, who look certain to sign him to a multi-year contract when the season ends. 'For an athlete to get a second career like this is really a special thing,' he says. 'From the first time I took to the field in a game situation, I felt like I was a kid again, there was that much buzz. And I really think I can offer the Jets something different, with my skills. 'Kicking is not natural for Americans, unless they play soccer. Whereas in a game situation, I can make decisions with my kicks because I am used to different conditions, to making my mind up about what to do in an instant.' For all his success on the field, Graham become most animated when he reflects on what the career change has offered all of his family. 'It was hard on them to start with for sure,' he says. 'But then there are now things like watching my daughters get ready for their first white Christmas. 'For Australians, that is something special - and you will never see two more excited kids.'