The social media world is rife with self-promoters angling to get famous.
Jermaine Gresham just wanted to help someone in need.
The Cardinals tight end went viral last week after he paid a $50 bag fee to get a stranded airport passenger on her flight to Phoenix. The recipient of his kindness, Delilah Cassidy, shared the story on Twitter, and it was retweeted thousands of times.
Gresham, who doesn’t use Twitter, didn’t even know the exchange was documented until the Cardinals’ social media manager texted him about the universal acclaim he was receiving.
“He’s like, ‘Yo, you’re a viral sensation,’” Gresham said. “I was like, for what? I didn’t get arrested or nothing like that.”
Media attention has never been a priority for Gresham, and he still struggled to understand all the fuss surrounding the incident while talking to reporters Tuesday afternoon. But it clearly left a large impression, which left tackle D.J. Humphries substantiated with a booming “Walter Payton Man of the Year right there” as he walked by Gresham in the locker room.
Gresham said his motive was to simply allow Cassidy to make her flight, and hopes anyone in his position would have done the same.
“I was right there,” Gresham said. “I had my wallet in my pocket. I was like, ‘Here, just swipe my card. It’s $50. Catch the flight.’ There wasn’t much to it. … She thanked me maybe 20 times from the front to the seat. She was very respectful.”
While Gresham was happy to help Cassidy, he was more comfortable talking about football on Tuesday, letting out an exhale and a “thank you” after the first question that switched the subject.
The veteran has yet to practice this offseason after tearing his Achilles in the 2017 regular season finale against the Seahawks, and admitted all of the standing around is frustrating.
“If I’m going to be in the sun, I want to get some work in,” Gresham said. “Hopefully I can amp things up a little bit and get out there quicker than (projected).”
Gresham’s target is to play in the season opener against Washington, something coach Steve Wilks would love to see.
“I can’t wait to get him back out there,” Wilks said. “When you’re talking about a true leader, he’s on that leadership committee team. A guy that plays with our kind of DNA. He’s gritty. He’s got a lot of fight to him. I like his attitude when he’s out there.”
The Cardinals’ tight end room is short on familiar names beyond Gresham, but there is optimism. Ricky Seals-Jones and Gabe Holmes earned praise from Wilks on Tuesday for their ability to both catch the ball and block. Gresham said he doesn’t feel a responsibility to rush back because he’s excited about the group.
“The position is thriving,” Gresham said.
Wilks was coy when asked about the usage rate of his tight ends this season, but they could be in line for an uptick in targets considering how rarely Bruce Arians deployed them. Gresham said the possibility of increased production doesn’t excite him.
“You know I don’t care, as long as we’re winning,” Gresham said. “I hope my guy (Seals-Jones) catches 15 touchdowns and goes for 1,000 yards. If we win 10 games, I’m going to pat him on the butt.”
That type of selflessness may not make Gresham a social media darling again, but it could increase the Cardinals’ chances of success.
Images from the Cardinals returning to work for their final week of 2018 OTAs.