Story written by EPelle
British sprinter Dwain Chambers has made the next stage in his bid to become a professional American Footballer, having been selected among 89 international players chosen for a six-week NFL Europe training camp in Tampa, Florida in March.
Chambers, the former European Champion over 100m, will not compete during the indoor athletics season, and he is almost certain to miss the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka in August.
Tony Allen, NFL Europe's director of international player development, said: "As well as his obvious speed, he has impressed us with his toughness, dedication and determination at the previous camps (blog link).
"Dwain is learning the sport quickly. He understands that he faces many tough challenges if he is to make a career for himself in the NFL.
"But he has shown us he deserves the chance to test himself against NFL players at the NFL Europe training camp."
I've followed Chambers' NFL development with keen appreciation, as I've had an opportunity to spend time with him one-on-one, and experience the sincerity he displays when he speaks about his life openly and with stunning candor.
The road ahead for Chambers will test him to wits' end, as he attempts to jump through hurdles and obstacles to further make the cut as the month of March concludes.
Chambers has been selected to attend a four-day mini camp for international players at the NFL Europe cam in Tampa, beginning on 5-March. Successful candidates will then be assigned to one of the six NFL Europe teams (Amsterdam, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Rhein Fire) at the conclusion of the camp, 8-March.
In what promises to be a taxing, whirlwind of a process, international players arrive at their respective camps 9-11 March, where they will vye for the 48 spots for the season (including eight non-Americans). If Chambers has made it through his boot camp of a process, he will then depart with a respective team 2-4 April for Europe.
According to BBC reports, 270 non-American players took part in NFL Europe trials for places on the Florida training camp last winter.
A very low total of between eight and nine of those have been chosen to line up alongside about 300 American players - mainly young players on the rosters of NFL teams in the USA - for the Florida camp.
Chambers will need an incredible amount of luck on his side in order to prove to selectors he not only has the talent to play the American sport, but that he should be entrusted to play the sport professionally despite lacking any grassroots training and development.
Chambers has faced tall odds previously in life, with his return to the athletics last season his biggest to date. His drive got him a look during training camp in Barcelona. His determination has gotten him to the next level, where all the grit in the world will not be sufficient enough - nor stretch far enough - to provide Chambers one of those precious few spots on an international field.
Chambers will need to bottle up all of his anger, every bit of his remorse, his entire stock and supply of hope and combine them with a genuinely large stroke of luck in order to look like he should be picked as a boy among men.
Combine those with tenacity, a powerful will and an iron-clad resolve aided by nothing more than the voices within screaming for respect and success in his endeavor, and Chambers may prompt a scout to raise his hand Chambers' direction, put a black checkmark next to his name, and bring the British sprinter back home to Europe for an enduring test of patience and bodily contact unknown to Chambers in the slightest degree.
Chambers has demonstrated remarkable composure and dedication to this venture. Will the men in charge at the next junction pick the last man standing, or will they pen a red line through his name, yell, "next?", and tell Chambers "thank you, you may go home now, goodbye"?
Chambers, who has been playing as a wide receiver, will not have to put on a spectacular display of raw speed which demonstrates he can run 100 yards from point A to point Z faster than his pursuers, rather that he can shake, roll, fake-out and out-maneuver his opponents at a rapid pace and break free and known when to look up - an instict he'll have to quickly develop - for a long pass invariably hauled his way from a quarterback under heavy scramble.
The NFL will be a completely new song and dance for Chambers, but he has shown remarkable poise in perfecting his plan to gain self-confidence and respect. He's remained on the field of practice long after hours, and has asked the right developmental questions reminiscent of rookie wide-outs attempting to better their game. He's taken his lumps and bruising, and learned to deal with the obvious pain mistakes on the field make.
Here's hoping to a changed man in Dwain Chambers the athlete as he puts his mind to its greatest test to date hoping he will find the lost needle in the haystack as time quickly runs down.
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