Christian Wade’s American football dream is coming true, says British NFL star Efe Obada.
Wade, 30, quit rugby in 2018 to pursue an NFL career and has been training with the Buffalo Bills since 2019.
He has yet to play one NFL game, but this year’s preseason is his best chance yet to earn a spot on the Bill’s list alongside new signing Obada.
“He’s taken the time to work on his craft and honestly he’s going to shock the world this year,” Obada said.
Wade has already made a huge impression on the NFL scene. On his very first carry in an American football game in the 2019 preseason, he ran for a 65-yard touchdown.
But what happened next to the former Wasp and England winger turned into a running back, and what happens now?
Wade is still trying to get the cut after the dream debut
Wade played three pre-season games in 2019, but he comes on “cutdown day” missed Buffalo’s 53-man roster.
That meant Wade couldn’t play in 2019, but would continue to learn the intricacies of his new sport as part of the Bills’ training team.
As he came to Buffalo in April 2019, the team was given a two year time off to have Wade on their training team. However, his hopes of pushing the selection in 2020 have been dashed by the pandemic.
The off-season program was severely disrupted and there were no pre-season games to show his progress.
But in April, Wade was granted a third year off leave with the Bills, which gave him a full off-season and preseason to convince them he’s ready. He didn’t play in their first pre-season game on Friday, but Buffalo has two more before naming his squad for 2021 on Aug. 31.
“The 2020 off-season wasn’t the same experience, but there were a lot of similarities,” said Wade.
“I just had to approach the problem like it was any other adversity in my career. I took one day at a time, kept myself informed and used the opportunity to fill in any gaps I might have.” been after.
“I think that has put me in a good position for this year. Now the pre-season is back, we have a full training camp and everything is looking good.”
Obada’s arrival makes it the British Bills
Obada (left) and Wade (right) summed up the atmosphere at the Bills’ camp in a zoom call last week
Although Wade grew up in Buckinghamshire, he settled in upstate New York.
He got engaged to American model Lisa Ramos, who happens to be close friends with Josh Allen’s girlfriend, so he spent a lot of time with the Buffalo quarterback.
He also hosted a weekly show on Bills’ YouTube channel interviewing teammates and even the team owners, who usually ended up with Wade teaching them some English rhyming slang.
Now the 5ft 7in Wade have formed a small and large double act with the 6ft 6in Obada, who came to the Bills with a one-year contract from the Carolina Panthers.
Obada says Wade is “like a local celebrity” in Buffalo, and the Nigerian-born Londoner is proving to be popular too.
“We speak differently, that’s why,” laughed the 29-year-old defensive lineman.
“Christian is so loved here. When you’re around he makes everyone laugh, he’s so lively and energetic.
“But at the same time you can see in the field that he’s working really hard and he’s here for a reason.
“I don’t have to say nice things about him – we have that kind of friendship and relationship.
Obada wants to build on the best season so far
Abandoned on the streets of London at the age of 10 Obada later worked in a factory while playing for the London Warriors, an amateur American football team.
But he made his breakthrough with the help of the NFL’s International Player Pathway (IPP) program.
The program was established to provide direct route to the NFL for overseas players outside of the American college system, and Obada is widely recognized as its greatest success story.
He was the first graduate to put on a 53-man list in 2018 just before Wade joined the program.
But Obada is no stranger to the “emotional roller coaster ride” of Cutdown Day, which is now waiting again for Wade.
Immediately after tweeted his gratitude for staying on Carolina’s roster last year, Obada was struck off by the Panthers, only to be re-signed a day later.
“It put a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “But I saw it as an opportunity to work on what I was missing. I think I’ll be a better player for that.”
“In the NFL, you have to prove yourself every day, not just because you’re fired or transferring to a new team. There’s always someone out there trying to do your job.”
Obada enjoyed his best season yet, picking up sacks against legendary quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in 2020.
That led to the bids coming in for 2021, and he felt Buffalo was the best option where he’s been reunited with his old friend since 2018.
A crucial phase of the IPP program is an intensive training camp at IMG Academy in Florida before joining an NFL team, and Obada briefly returned while Wade made his NFL transition.
“It’s amazing,” said Wade. “I know Efe from before the trip. Three years later we’re on the same team.”
Last season, this team won its division for the first time in 25 years and took a Super Bowl victory. Now they have signed quarterback Josh Allen for a six-year extension and a tip is being given to go all the way.
“And I have this guy too [nodding towards Wade]which makes my day a little brighter and brighter, “added Obada.