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Samkon Gado – The Nigerian Nightmare

Steven Jackson, St Louis Rams starting running back is questionable to start in tomorrow’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.  So, let’s take a look at one of his top replacements: Samkon Gado.  Gado was born in Kufai, Nigeria in 1982.  He moved to Columbia, South Carolina when he was nine years old.  Gado posted 10 games of over 200 yards as a high school football running back.  His high school teammates referred to him as the “Nigerian Nightmare,” the nickname of former Kansas City Chief running back Christian Okoye.

After high school Gado has had a difficult time locking down a starting role.  Gado played college football at Liberty University, a Division I-AA school in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Although he definitely had a positive impact on his team, he remained a #3 back through out college (behind 2 players that never reached the NFL).  He played in 39 games at Liberty, with a total of 273 rushes for 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught a total of 38 passes for 486 yards and six receiving touchdowns.  Attending a Division I-AA school did not help with his pro recruitment.  In fact he went completely undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft.

In May 2005 Gado was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs only to be released a month later due to a training camp injury.  He caught the eye of then KC head coach Dick Vermeil who encouraged him not to give up.  A few months later, in Oct 2005 he was signed to the Green Bay Packers.   It was in the 2005 season after running backs Green and Davenport suffered season ending injuries, that Gado received his first opportunity to make a name for himself in the pros.  Beginning with his start against Atlanta, Gado ran for 3 straight 100 yards games.  He racked up 3 touchdowns (2 rushing and 1 receiving) against Atlanta, scored a rushing TD in each of those 3 games, and received ‘Rookie of The Week’ and ‘Rookie of the Month’ awards.  However, Gado’s season ended on a sprained MCL in a December match up against the Baltimore Ravens and he was unable to maintain his grip on the starting role.

In September, 2006 Gado was traded to the Houston Texans and back into obscurity.  He had very limited playing time and approximately a year later, the Texans released him after promoting Adimchinobi Echemandu to their third-string RB position.  In roller-coaster fashion (Oct 2007), Gado was quickly picked up by Miami, but then released as they resigned Ricky Williams.  Next he was picked up again by Miami when Ricky Williams was injured.  At the bottom of this coaster and at the end of the 2007 season he was released as a restricted free agent.  In November, 2008 he was picked up by the St Louis Rams where he currently makes his professional home and where we suddenly have high expectations for him.

I watched Gado play through out the 2009 preseason and was very impressed.  I have been screaming for more Gado since day one of the 2009 season.  I can’t help, but to think what could have happened for him if he had not been injured during his short, but impressive stay with the Green Bay Packers.  And, although I want to see Steven Jackson back on the field ASAP, I hope Gado takes advantage of this opportunity to get back into the limelight and to cement regular and productive playing time with the Rams.  I look forward to tomorrow’s game and to the return of the ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’.

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