TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There are officially less than 100 days left until the start of the NFL regular season, Buccaneers fans.
Before fans head down to Raymond James Stadium this season, it might be a good idea to get to know a little bit about the up-and-coming rookies – especially tight end Payne Durham.
This season, the fifth-round pick will sport NFL star and former Bucs’ tight end Rob Gronkowski’s No. 87.
But the thing about Durham is he only got into football because he lost a bet.
Last month, Durham told reporters his story of how his football career began, and it’s not something you’d expect to hear from a professional football player.
According to Bucs Insider Dan Lucas, Durham said he “got into football in high school because he lost a bet to the coach, who sunk a three-pointer…Payne had to try a football practice. 5 years later, he calls his coach often to say ‘thank you'”.
During last month’s episode of Bucs Bonus, Lucas and Bucs Insider Karen Loftus touched on the rookie’s “great story.”
“Payne Durham, who played a little bit of youth football but did not play high school football until a coach– it might’ve been a football coach at his old high school made a bet. [The coach] wanted [Payne] to come out for football, and Payne’s like, ‘no, no.’ The coach goes, ‘I’ll tell you what, if I hit this three-pointer, you have to come out to a practice.’ And that was the bet. So, he goes, ‘alright, fine.’ The coach nails the three-pointer, so Payne Durham goes out to football practice to see what it’s all about, and five years later, he tells the story about how he calls his coach all the time to say thank you,” Lucas shared.
Loftus added that Durham had no idea he was dealing with a “sharpshooter” and said Durham’s story was a “great” one.
After graduating from Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia, he went on to play as a tight end at Purdue University, where he played in every season.
Following the 2023 NFL Draft, Durham shared that he’s excited to be in Tampa, especially since his mom lives in Bradenton. He said that she’s “been praying for Tampa.”
“My mom lives in Bradenton, so this whole process, she’s been praying for Tampa. I went outside to take the phone call, and I kinda faked them out when I got back in. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that was just some financial advisor calling me,’ just playing a little prank, but when it came across the TV, everyone was super excited. I’m super excited to call [Tampa] home.”
On June 8, Durham signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The tight end was selected as the No. 171 overall pick. During college at Purdue University, Durham appeared in 45 career games, recording 126 catches for 1,275 yards and 21 touchdowns.
According to the Bucs, his 21 receiving touchdowns are the fifth most in Purdue history and second most by a tight end in program history. His eight touchdown receptions in 2022 were also tied for the second-most by a tight end in the nation.