Las Rozas Black Demons LT Doums Mamoudou adds beauty to the brutality of offensive line

At the heart of every football game there is a beautiful and brutal ballet. An intricate dance of giants, big men whose agility, precision and quickness contrast their physicality and nastiness. To the uninitiated, this performance is oft ignored and rarely appreciated, but to those who love its details, few things can captivate or inspire awe like the game within the game.

If offensive line play is a ballet, Mamoudou Doumbouya is the premier danseur noble, stealing the show with breath-taking footwork and aggressive flourish. The imposing Frenchman, known simply as Doums by his teammates, is nearly impossible to take your eyes off of.

“After every game I’ve had comments like that, people telling me ‘usually I’ve never watched offensive line play but you are really different’. People telling me they take pleasure in seeing me play,” the Las Rozas Black Demons left tackle admits with a touch of pride.

“I’m really grateful and I love feeling like people start to appreciate my position because of my feet or the way I play. For me, it’s great. I hope a lot of kids will say ‘I’ve been trying to be like Doums or maybe be more than Doums’.”

Standing at a hair under six-foot-four and 300 pounds with long arms and the athletic ability of a man half his size, Mamoudou was born the prototype for an offensive lineman but didn’t discover the game until he was 16. Growing up in Paris‘ much maligned banlieue 93, it was a school mate who suggested he try his hand at American football and he signed up with the Flash de la Courneuve.

Doums Mamoudou battling Osos Rivas DE Photo: Lola Morales

Most young football players are disappointed when they get assigned to the offensive line, but as Mamoudou recalls, he didn’t know enough about the game to be upset.

“In the beginning, I had no clue at all.  I didn’t even know what my position was or why I was there,” he chuckles. “I didn’t even know what was the running back, quarterback, nothing. They just told me to stay there and block people and I started to learn.”

Football came naturally to Mamoudou and he fell in love with the game almost instantly. In his first season the Flash went all the way to the French national finals and a devastating loss made Mamoudou realize just how much he wanted to accomplish.

“We started crying, you know? We were really young and it was my first year and I really felt like this team was my second family. So for me, I was like, nah, I don’t want to have this pain anymore. I have to work hard to be one of the best to make my team better,” Mamoudou explains.

“After this loss, I think that was the click. I wanted to be a better player. I wanted to keep playing. There was so much love for this game and I knew at that moment I would stay involved.”

 

His rise to the top of his game would be meteoric. Within two years, Mamoudou was a French national team stalwart and a few years later caught the eyes of the German Football League’s Frankfurt Universe, jumping to the top league in Europe. Mamoudou credits a lot of that early success to his childhood friend and teammate Mamadou Sy, who would also go on to star in Germany.

“When we first started playing against each other, it was really hard to beat him. I think that’s why we both got better, because of this competition, ” Mamoudou explains. “When he was playing defensive tackle and I was playing offensive line, every match up was going to be crazy. I wanted to be the best and he wanted to be the best too. He was the best I ever played.”

After two years with Frankfurt, the Frenchman longed for home and returned to play for the Thonon Black Panthers. His caliber of play did not diminish but Mamoudou felt his time in the game was nearing its end. He had gotten a stable job in logistics and it was time to start a life that wasn’t scraping by on European football’s pay scale. At 27, just entering his prime, Doums Mamoudou stepped off the stage.

It took a little persistence from a friend to bring him back again. After two years away, former Frankfurt teammate David Giron began the recruiting effort to get him back on the field and take one final kick at the can in Spain.

“He’d say ‘oh, please Doums, let’s go. Let’s play one more year in Spain’. I was like, nah, I’m done. This would go on and, you know, with best friends it’s so easy to convince,” Mamoudou says. “He kept going every day, every day. Finally, I said, you know what? Okay.”

Doums Mamoudou right behind teammate into the end zone Photo: Lola Morales

Now with the powerhouse Las Rozas Black Demons, the 29-year old standout doesn’t appear to have lost a step, locking down the blindside for star quarterback Chris Merchant. The return is made even more impressive by the fact Mamoudou has retained his full-time job in Paris, traveling down to Madrid only for Friday night practice and staying for games.

“It’s a little harder because as a whole line we have to work our footwork, it’s the base of our position. You have to do it every time, every day, every practice and missing that is really hard,” Mamoudou explains. “Even when I played in the game, I felt like my feet weren’t as fast as they used to be.”

Still, it remains hard to find fault from the outside as Mamoudou continues to erase his opponent’s best pass rushers in vintage fashion. He wasn’t sure what to expect after his extensive time off but Mamoudou’s love for the game and the position has been reinvigorated in Spain.

“I didn’t know how it was going to be, but at the end of the day I felt good. I really enjoyed it, being on the field was just sensational. It was just crazy how we can have so much fun playing. I was just like a kid on the field again,” he smiles broadly.

“Once you start, it’s so hard to say it’s over. Now that I’m playing every weekend, I feel like I’m going to do it for a little longer.”

Doums Mamoudou set to fend off Badalona Dracs DE Mike Taylor Photo: Lola Morales

He’s not committing to anything yet, but Mamoudou believes he has a few years left in him and teams around Europe are already calling the star blocker to continue his encore with them. As he contemplates his next performance, Mamoudou wants the next generation of offensive linemen to know there is recognition for work done in the shadows.

“This is a position you should be proud of playing. You should love it and really enjoy yourself, it doesn’t have to be a task,” he advises.

“You may feel like I’m going to block again, I’m going to do this or that and everyone will be looking at the running back after the play. No, no, trust me. When you do your block correctly, you do your job correctly, people start to take interest in you, even if it takes time.”

Doums Mamoudou has worked his way back to center stage and he’ll have plenty of new understudies taking notes.

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J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.
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