Gado in 2006
|No. 35, 27, 38|
November 13, 1982|
Kufai, Taraba State, Nigeria
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight:||225 lb (102 kg)|
|High school:||Columbia (SC) Lippen|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Samkon Kaltho Gado (born November 13, 1982) is a Nigerian-American otolaryngologist (ENT physician) and former American football running back. He played college football at Liberty. He was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2005.
Born in Kufai, Gombe State, Nigeria, Gado moved to Columbia, South Carolina from Nigeria when he was nine years old. He attended Ben Lippen School in Columbia, where he was a four-sport letterwinner (football, track, soccer, and basketball).
Gado posted 10 games of over 200 yards as a high school football running back. Gado was named Athlete of the Year as a junior, rushing for 2,100 yards and 31 touchdowns. He served as team captain in his senior campaign. He played for current comedian, and former high school head football coach Marty Simpson. His high school teammates referred to him as the "Nigerian Nightmare," the nickname of former Kansas City Chief running back Christian Okoye. Gado donned the jersey number 35 out of respect for Okoye while in Green Bay and Houston.
Gado played college football at Liberty University, an FCS school in Lynchburg, Virginia. Although Gado only started two games in his college career (playing behind fellow backs Dre Barnes and Eugene Goodman), his contributions to the team were significant. He played in 39 games during his college career, amassing a total of 273 carries for 1,631 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. He also caught a total of 38 passes for 486 yards and six receiving touchdowns. His most significant numbers came in his senior year, where he proved his value to the offense by carrying the ball 138 times for 938 yards and a team-high eleven rushing touchdowns.
Awards and honors
Gado received the following awards for his performances at Liberty University:
- Rock Royer Award, May 2005 (Top senior athlete - shared with another athlete)
Kansas City Chiefs
Gado was unable to make the Chiefs active roster in part due to an injury suffered during training camp, and was eventually waived from the practice squad after the first month of the season. Kansas City running backs coach James Saxon was impressed by Gado's ability, but there was no room on the Chiefs roster to retain him. Nonetheless, Saxon spoke highly of him to other teams such as the Green Bay Packers. Kansas City head coach Dick Vermeil also encouraged Gado to continue playing football.
Green Bay Packers
On October 17, the Green Bay Packers brought Gado in for a workout. The personnel officials and coaches were won over by a 40-yard dash time of 4.43 seconds and signed Gado on the spot to their practice squad. Gado's future in the NFL might have ended there were it not for the unfortunate circumstances of the Packers' 2005 season. Despite being one of the premier running teams of the past few years, the Packers saw a dramatic drop in production due to the loss of both of their starting guards from the previous season and due to nagging injuries to star running back Ahman Green. Both Green and backup Najeh Davenport were eventually lost to season-ending injuries, forcing the Packers to promote Gado to the active roster alongside third-string back Tony Fisher and such players as ReShard Lee and Noah Herron.
Gado made his NFL debut, only two weeks after being signed to the Packers roster, with an eight-yard carry on October 30, 2005 in a 21–14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It was his only carry of the game. One week later, he was given much more playing time against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though Fisher was officially the starter of the game, Gado carried the ball 23 times for 62 yards and scored his first NFL rushing touchdown in the 20–10 loss. Coaches and teammates were impressed by Gado's performance against a strong Pittsburgh defense.
Gado began to be considered a "feel good story" for the 2005 NFL season as a nobody backup suddenly showing real potential when given the chance. The sudden media attention was also due to Gado's polite and humble personality both in interviews and on the field. After Gado's touchdown in the Steelers game, he reportedly walked up to and thanked every one of his offensive linemen for helping him to score.
On November 13, 2005, Gado started his first NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons. He responded to the challenge with an outstanding performance that instantly turned him into a household name for Packer faithful. Gado rushed 23 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre, as the Packers won, 33–25. Gado received the NFL Rookie of Week 10 award for the game. Gado became the first player in NFL history to score three touchdowns on his 23rd birthday.
For the next three weeks Gado excelled in the starting position. He recorded two more 100-yard performances—111 against the Philadelphia Eagles and 171 against the Detroit Lions—and scored a rushing touchdown in three straight games. He was once again awarded the Rookie of the Week award, this time for his Week 14 game against the Lions.
Gado's season ended on a sprained MCL in a December 19 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Before the injury, he had looked very strong against a notable Ravens defense, rushing six times for 45 yards. Though it was possible that Gado would recover in time to play the season finale, the team decided that risking any further injury to the rookie wasn't necessary, and placed Gado on injured reserve.
Gado's 2006 preseason rushing numbers were unremarkable, and did not stand out among other competitors for the running back position. Ultimately, former teammate Najeh Davenport was released at the end of the preseason, and Gado remained on the squad.
Gado started the 2006 season as a backup running back. On September 13, 2006, after the first week of the NFL regular season, Gado was traded to the Houston Texans for running back Vernand Morency.
Gado's best moment of the 2006 season was a game at the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans sealed the victory when coach Gary Kubiak gambled on fourth-and-1 at the Houston 41-yard line with a minute remaining, winning by 3. Samkon Gado, who finished with 67 yards rushing, picked up enough for the first down. "You've got to give your team a chance to win," Kubiak said. "Was it the smartest thing? I don't know, but where we are headed with our football team we got to send a message to our football team about the way we are going to play and what we are going to be about."
On October 23, 2007 the Texans released him after promoting Adimchinobi Echemandu to their third-string RB. Gado had rushed for only 46 yards on 18 attempts with 1 TD.
Shortly before Gado's release from Houston, the Miami Dolphins lost starting running back Ronnie Brown to a torn ACL. As a result, the Dolphins claimed Gado off waivers. However, he did not see playing time for his first few games in a Dolphins uniform. After Miami's backup running back, Jesse Chatman went down, they re-signed Ricky Williams, a former Dolphin who had done several stints in-and-out of the league, and subsequently cut Gado. However, Williams was injured in his first game back, and Miami re-signed Gado. Gado contributed over the next several weeks, including scoring a touchdown in a game won by the previously 0-13 Dolphins.
Gado, a restricted free agent in the 2008 offseason, was not tendered a contract by the team. The Palm Beach Post reported on May 15, 2008 that Gado has a tryout scheduled with the New England Patriots.
St. Louis Rams
Gado was signed by the St. Louis Rams on November 4, 2008 after wide receivers Drew Bennett and Dante Hall were placed on injured reserve. The Rams released Gado on November 19 to make room for offensive tackle Anthony Davis.
After spending the rest of the 2008 season out of football, Gado was re-signed to a future contract by the Rams on January 5, 2009.
On August 17, 2010, Gado signed with the Tennessee Titans. He was released on September 4, 2010.
Awards and honors
Gado received two NFL awards for his rookie performance:
- NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month, November 2005
- Rookie of the Week, Weeks 10 and 14
In addition, Gado holds the Green Bay franchise record for most rushing yards in a game for a rookie (171).
Gado is a Christian. Gado is a member of the Samantia Club in Houston. Gado received a bachelor's degree in health promotions while taking pre-med courses at Liberty University. Gado plans to follow up his football career by becoming a medical missionary in his native country. A fall 2006 TV spot highlighted Gado's internship at a hospital in Green Bay. His father, Jeremiah Gado, initially left Nigeria in 1990 to study at Columbia International University, and now regularly visits Nigeria for mission work. Gado was named on the Phil Simms All Iron team for his contribution to the community. As of June 2012, Gado had recently completed his first year at The Medical University of South Carolina. Gado is now a third-year resident in the Saint Louis University Hospital Otolaryngology program.
- "Samkon Gado" (PDF). Tennessee Titans. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-10-17. Retrieved 2006-09-13.
- RotoTimes.com - Samkon Gado - Fantasy Football Profile Archived 2008-07-05 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Field Ministry".
- "Former NFL Running Back Now a SLU Otolaryngology Resident".
- Schefter, Adam (June 7, 2007). "Gado's Absence not a Bad One". NFL.com. Archived from the original on 2007-06-10. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
- Crossman, Matt (6 November 2017). "How ex-Packers phenom Samkon Gado became a doctor on a mission". ESPN. Retrieved 11 November 2017.