David Bada: Germany’s newest NFL rookie, looks back on an amazing year

The sun was beating down on a hot August morning in Ashburn, Virginia as the newly named Washington football team’s training camp was finally underway again. The humidity of the northern Virginia air made players sweat as they hit the field with varied confidence, after a long, uncertain, and mostly virtual offseason program.

One player not used to the heat of Washington summers not to mention the rigors of an NFL training camp was German defensive lineman David Bada. The 6′ 4″ 290 pound lineman was abruptly reminded of where he was when tasked with tackling future NFL Hall of Famer running back Adrian Peterson.

David Bada won’t forget his “Welcome to the NFL” moment:

“When I was in training camp, I tackled Adrian Peterson and I felt it in my arms. It’s crazy playing against a player like that.”

Bada, who grew up in Munich Germany, with family roots to Ghana, spent the entirety of the 2020 season on the Washington Football Team’s practice squad as part of the NFL International Pathway Player Program. This gave the wide-eyed rookie a chance to learn from one of the best defensive lines in the NFL with players including NFL rookie of the year Chase Young and Pro-Bowler Ryan Kerrigan.

Bada was thankful to learn all sorts of tips from experienced players and coaches a like:

“They are not only teaching pass rushing moves but all game situations. If the offense lines up here, what type of block you might get. It was very helpful. “

David Bada getting coaching pointers at Washington Football Team practice Photo: Elijah Griffin

Washington DC’s European football ambassador was along for the ride in what can only be described as a roller-coaster season. After coach Ron Rivera and his team got off to an awful 2-7 start, Washington rallied to win five of its last seven games to win a weak NFC East Division and sneak into the playoffs. Bada, along with other practice squad players, were eager play and to help their team but knew they had to wait their turn.

Bada explains what it felt like to sit and wait for his gameday opportunity:

“To be honest it sucks, you watch film and prepare just like you are getting ready to play. But when gameday comes you’re on the side-line.”

Bada made it to Washington after an impressive career in the German Football League got him noticed by International NFL scout Will Bryce. He was part of one of Germany’s powerhouse programs, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. As part of the Unicorns in 2018, Bada helped his squad win the German Bowl with 18 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks. The productive season combined with his freakish measurables got him invited to the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. After failing to be one of the four players selected for the NFL in the 2019 class of international players, Bada was crushed. He returned home to his family disappointed but proud of how far he had come.

David Bada was a key in the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns championship season in 2018 Photo: Mila Donovic

Luckily his disappointment didn’t last long as the next year he was given another chance in the NFL’s innovative program.

Bada wasn’t expecting to get a second chance in the NFL’s IPPP:

“No, I didn’t think I would get another chance. The NFL is a tough business, but I wanted to work hard to get ready in case I got that second chance.”

The determined defender wasn’t going to let his second chance go to waste. After months of training at IMG Academy in Florida with other top international prospects, Bada had bulked up in order to get ready for a pivotal position change from a slender defensive end to a bulky run stuffing defensive tackle.

“I met with the coaches and talked about if I should play defensive end or inside. They were telling me to play inside because of my long arms and size. Playing defensive end and defensive tackle are very different so it was difficult at first.”

The position change and his years of hard work had finally culminated as Bada achieved his new and once inconceivable dream. He was brought to tears as emotions poured over him while learning of his allocation with the Washington Football Team during a video call with head coach Ron Rivera.

“Oh man it was a dream come true! As I kid from Germany, I would’ve never expected that!”

Photo:  © instagram.com/david_bada14

The NFL rookie has been keeping tabs on the newest class of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, and is impressed with the program’s success and the athletes it has found.

“I don’t know how they find these guys! There are some crazy athletes this year too!”

Bada is excited to take everything he learned his rookie year and put it towards his 2021 season. The former Schwäbisch Hall Unicorn is eager for the chance to earn an NFL jersey on gamedays this fall.

“I’m excited to be back with Washington, and I’m looking forward competing to make the roster this year.”

Check out NFL Undiscovered with David Bada

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football stories from across the globe.