When Christian Wade made the decision to leave rugby and embark on his NFL journey, there was a mix of reactions.
Whilst many were excited for Wade and the opportunity he was chasing, there were also plenty who acknowledged the reality of the challenge ahead of the former Wasps man and that the odds were firmly stacked against him.
On Monday, that NFL dream became a whole lot more real for Wade, as he was assigned to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.
Wade will be part of the International Player Pathway Program this season, which allows the four franchises in the AFC East to carry an extra player on their practice squads, as long as they are international players from abroad. As the 11th member of the practice squads, they are ineligible to be activated during this season and moved onto the franchises’ regular 53-man rosters.
It’s a path that has been trod previously by former England 7s international Alex Gray and ex-Worcester Warriors lock Christian Scotland-Williamson. Gray recently signed a new two-year future reserves contract with the Atlanta Falcons, whilst Scotland-Williamson is still part of the program with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both players play tight end in the NFL.
As for Wade, he will link up with his new teammates in May, when the first of the offseason camps begin at NFL franchises all over the US.
The former England and British and Irish Lions wing is hoping to make the grade as a running back in the NFL, which will put him in the backfield with second-year quarterback Josh Allen at the Bills, and alongside a stable of tailbacks that boasts legendary figures Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy.
The odds are still firmly stacked against Wade, but with mentors like Gore and McCoy in place in Buffalo and an opportunity to learn and develop on the practice squad during the 2019 season, those odds might be beginning to look up for the man that used to light up the Gallagher Premiership on a weekly basis.
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