People usually ask me what it’s like living in Europe or how it is playing football over there. In this blog Im going to tell you about my 2019 season in Romania from start to finish. To be honest when I first got the offer to play in Romania I wasn’t that thrilled honestly I was rethinking for the first half of the season. But I knew that I hadn’t been on a contract since 2016 and I needed to prove that I could still play after being off for 3 years. I didn’t even know where Romania was on the map. When I found out about their weather in the winter I was really doubting my decision. In the Algarve (Portugal) the weather was always nice even in the winter it was 60. Once I found that Romania was next to Serbia Im like “oh s***” it’s probably going to snow every day and it didn’t disappoint. I usually play at about 220 lbs but they wanted me to be the middle linebacker so I planned to play at 230 to give me some more thump. I was 235 when I got to Romania last January I figured I would be back in playing shape in a month which was still months before our first game. During the first practice they asked me if I could play safety which I’ve done sparingly in the past but not full-time. My first reaction was that I didn’t want to play safety especially in a run-heavy country like Romania. But unfortunately for me our best position group was our linebackers, I figured if I moved to safety I could get the best players on the field. It was an unselfish decision but I knew that my stats would suffer because of the move. When you’re an import player you almost have to be perfect. There’s no such thing as bad game or bad practice and you better get used to playing with injuries. I’ve seen play through injuries they shouldn’t have because they didn’t want to get sent home. If a team knows you have a season-ending injury they will politely ship you back to America. Teams want to win now and if you can’t contribute they won’t keep you around. Some athletes can’t handle that type of pressure because you’re in an uncomfortable situation expected to perform at a high level. I’ve seen guys get benched for having one bad game as an import and sent home for having two bad games. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime representing your country while doing the thing that you love the most.
Dating as an overseas athlete is like trying to cook a gourmet meal with $15. The problem is a typical season runs for 6 months and after you go back to the states. Women typically stay away from import athletes because they know we usually don’t want anything serious and we won’t be permanent in their country. I’m not a fan of long-distance relationships so I was just trying to meet nice women while I was there and create some new experiences. Of course I downloaded Tinder but I wasn’t really successful with it. I like to chat but ultimately wanted to meet women to hang out just to see the city and enjoy myself. Romanian women are very beautiful but also very crazy. They would make plans to hang out and at the last minute change their mind when they figured out that I played a sport there. Some of the women just wanted to chat with no intent of hanging out and after a few days I’d just unmatch them. What really surprised me is that Romanian women were into black men. By it being predominantly white, I didn’t think that black men would get much love over there but I was wrong. It was like they fetishized us some women were just curious to find out if the stereotype was true. They would ask about in an indirect way which was always funny to me but I would just play along. Eventually I just stopped using the dating apps and just tried to meet women the old-fashioned way which worked out much better for me.
My goal coming into the season was to go undefeated and win the championship. Looking at the talent on the roster I knew I would have to be the eraser on our defense, but I love that kind of pressure. We lost in our first scrimmage and I realized that this team had alot of holes. Guys had a false sense of ability until we played other people then the reality set in that we weren’t that good. I found myself fixing other people’s mistakes more than me actually worrying about my own assignment. If I was a quitter I would’ve quit because I was asked to do what seemed like an impossible job. Throughout the season I would play safety, wide receiver, cornerback, outside linebacker, and even nickelback. By far my most versatile season and it forced me to work on my weaknesses. While we didn’t win the championship I did help my team to a 4-2 record and a Championship appearance. I loved those guys because what they didn’t have in talent they made up for in effort. By season’s end you could see that the guys had gotten better and that it meant something to them. Their attitude is why I plan on coming back to finish what we started last season. A championship is what I want the most and I plan to deliver it in 2020.