Written by Michael Fragale
Former walk-on turned All-America offensive lineman Rich Braham made 37 starts at left tackle for West Virginia from 1990-93.
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Braham started every game as a senior captain in 1993 and anchored a line that paved the way for Robert Walker to rush for a then-school record 1,250 yards. The all-BIG EAST selection was named the team’s most valuable player and recognized on the Kodak, UPI and the AP All-America teams after helping lead the Mountaineers to their second undefeated regular season (11-0) in school history. Braham was also the recipient of WVU’s Ira E. Rodgers Award for outstanding leadership, academic and football achievement.
The Morgantown, W.Va., native started each game of the 1992 season and garnered the Whitey Gwynne award as the Mountaineers’ unsung hero on offense. Braham’s sophomore season was his first as a full-time starter after starting the last three games of the 1990 season as a freshman.
Braham, who received a bachelor’s degree in finance at WVU, was drafted in the third round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals before later being traded to the Cincinnati Bengals that season. He appeared in 146 games and made 142 starts during his 13-year career in Cincinnati. He played the early part of his career at left guard and then switched to center full-time in 1999, where he made his last 98 starts.
Cincinnati coaches raved at how the former University High standout made such a smooth transition to center as a new era began of giant defensive tackles manning the middle of NFL defenses.
Braham is only the seventh man to play at least 13 seasons in a Cincinnati uniform. During his tenure in Cincinnati, he blocked for Pro Bowl running backs Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson and protected quarterbacks Boomer Esiason, Jeff Blake and Carson Palmer.
Braham was known as one of the toughest guys in the organization surviving four arthroscopic knee surgeries, two sprained ankles, a herniated neck disc and a broken toe in his career before finally, a tibia plateau fracture forced his retirement in December of 2006.
Braham and his wife Connie have a son, Noah.