Oct 24, 2006

Even in his NFL career, Gado’s focus stays on God

by Dave Thompson

“It was a wonderful opening for me,” said former Liberty running back Sam-kon Gado, upon learning he would be joining the Kansas City Chiefs organization.

“I feel like God opened the door for me,” he said. In spite of the fact that Gado got the break that most college athletes hope for – a chance to play in the NFL – it turned into a disappointment.

Gado was released from the team without playing in a single game, never making it past the practice squad.

It could have ended there for Gado. Indeed, it seemed to. “I knew it was going to take an act of God (to be able to play again),” said Gado.

The good news came on October 17, 2005, in the form of a call from the Green Bay Packers. “It was sudden,” said Gado, “[but] I was elated.”

Gado joined the Packers’ practice squad and was promoted to the regular team in midseason when injuries to running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport forced his call-up.

Presented with the opportunity to show his talent, Gado didn’t disappoint.

“I didn’t get too much warning,” he said of receiving the news that he would play in his first game, which ended in a 21-14 loss to Cincinnati.

Gado saw the ball once in the game on an eight-yard rush.

Judging from the limited time he saw, not many would have guessed that Gado would break several rookie records for the Packers organization.

“I thought I would be wide-eyed,” said Gado, “but I feel like God gave me the grace to be here. I was calm.”

Gado scored his first touchdown a week later in a loss to Pittsburgh.

His breakout night came, fittingly, in the Packers’ win against the favored Atlanta Falcons.

Gado rushed for 103 yards, ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass for another touchdown while literally carrying Green Bay to victory.

Before a minor injury sidelined him for the final two weeks of the season, Gado established himself as the team’s top running back, albeit a substitute, leading the team in rushing attempts (143), rushing yards (582), yards per carry (4.1) and touchdowns (7).

He also broke the team single season record for rushing touchdowns by a rookie (6) and the franchise record for rushing yards in a single game by a rookie (171).

Understandably, Gado thought he would be competing for the running back spot going into the 2006 season.

Samkon, however, received an immense shock on Sept. 16, when he received the news that he was being traded to the Houston Texans.

“My roommate had a look on his face,” Gado said. “I didn’t see it coming at all.”

He immediately joined the Texans and has seen carries in each of their four games this year, though not with the regularity that he saw in Green Bay.

His best game this season came in the second week in a 43-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts when he carried the ball three times for 36 yards.

Despite the effort, Gado acknowledged that success can go as quickly as it comes.

“My effort didn’t get me here,” he said. Despite getting less playing time in Houston, Gado said that there is less pressure than in Green Bay.

“(The Packers) are an established team,” he said. “There are different expectations here… I don’t feel as much pressure.”

The transition to life in Texas has not been easy either. “When I first got here, it was a little overwhelming,” he said.

However, Gado did poke fun at the differences in climate between Green Bay, Wisc., and Houston. “The weather is better [than in Green Bay],” he said.

In the midst of the many shifts Gado has had to make, his outlook remains positive and open to God’s purpose.

“I may not get the recognition I did in Green Bay… but I grew as a believer [there], and I firmly believe that God will do the same thing in Houston,” he said.

His stay in the NFL has not distracted him from his ultimate goal, though.

“I still have the desire to go to medical school,” said Gado.

He displayed his commitment to that goal when he volunteered at Bellin Memorial Hospital in Green Bay during the off-season.

According to an Associated Press article on ESPN.com, Gado spent part of the off-season “doing grunt work at a local hospital.”

He was quoted in the article as saying, “I really just wanted to blend in. I wasn’t doing it for show. I didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh, look at this Green Bay Packer working.’ I really wanted the experience. And I’m going to do it again next year.”

Whether in Green Bay or Houston and whether he is playing or sitting, Gado’s focus remains on the object of his faith.

“When I completely surrender my life to Jesus Christ, to God the Father, He handles it better than I could myself,” he said.

Contact David Thompson at dbthompson@liberty.edu.

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