Frank Ragnow was at his mother Marty's house Thursday, and was going through some of his old school projects she's kept.
They stumbled upon something he wrote with his first cursive assignment. In it, Ragnow had written that his goal was to make it to the NFL and to be able to take care of his family.
Ragnow accomplished his NFL dream in 2018 as a first-round pick of the Lions (No. 20 overall). He's quickly become one of the best centers in the game, and the Lions have rewarded him with a four-year contract extension through the 2026 season that reportedly makes him the highest paid center in the game.
Ragnow started his press conference announcing the extension by thanking all the people that helped him to this point. He got emotional when speaking about his father, Jon, who passed away from a heart attack in 2016.
"My dad and my mom are just my people and I'm very grateful for them," Ragnow said. "My dad's not here, but I'm very excited to take care of my mom because I had an amazing childhood, man, and I'm just so proud of the way I was raised and my upbringing and to be able to give back to my mom. I wish I could give back to my dad and go fishing with him and everything, but to be able to give back to my mom and my family means the world."
Asked what his father would say to him if he was there with him Friday, Ragnow joked that Jon probably would have been calling him a schmo for crying on national media. It's evident by Ragnow's emotions that family means everything to him. He still stays in touch with some of his dad's buddies, and said they were all excited and crying for him.
"He used to always say this thing, 'I'm just going to keep putting pizzas in the oven then one day you'll buy me a helicopter," Ragnow said of his dad. "So, I'm sure he'll be saying something like that. He'd be ecstatic."
Ragnow has blossomed into one of the top centers in the game in just three seasons. He was the second highest graded center by Pro Football Focus in 2020 behind only All-Pro Corey Linsley. He didn't allow a single sack last season, and has only allowed two the last two seasons combined. He's smart, stout, athletic, and just the kind of player general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are trying to build the Lions roster around.
"Frank is a foundational piece of what we're building in Detroit and he is everything that we're looking for in a Lion," Holmes said in statement.
"Frank plays the game the right way and he has dedicated himself to improving his craft each season. We are ecstatic to come to this agreement and to have Frank as a leader on our team for years to come."
The Lions and Ragnow's representation have been working on this deal for months, according to Ragnow.
"It's exciting," Ragnow said. "It's just so awesome. I'm sure you guys have heard from multiple people talking to media within this past spring but there's just a new energy (in the building) ... it's real. It just feels right. It's kind of hard to explain. For them to believe in me is something I'll forever be grateful for."
With left tackle Taylor Decker, 27, signing an extension last offseason that puts him under contract through 2024, and the Lions drafting Penei Sewell, 20, in the first round of last week's NFL Draft with control of his contract rights through potentially 2025 with a fifth-year option, the Lions have three key pieces along their offensive line wrapped up for years to come. Jonah Jackson, 24, who started all 16 games at guard last season as a rookie, is only entering Year 2 of his rookie deal.
So how does Ragnow plan to celebrate his new deal? He's heading on a fishing trip to the UP this weekend where he'll try to beat his career-best small-mouth bass catch of 5.33 pounds.
With his long-term future secure in Detroit, Ragnow is excited about what this offensive line group can become and where this team is headed, but also eager to see where he can take his game.
"I think one thing that has gotten me here is just my pride and the pride with the name," Ragnow said. "There's a lot of outside sources that can put pressure on you, but I don't think it's ever going to be more than the pressure I put on myself.
"I take so much pride in what I produce with my name, whether it's how I interact with you guys (media) or how I interact with people around the building or how I play. I just want to be able to keep climbing. I think there's a lot of improvement I can still make, which is exciting for me and hopefully for Lions fans."