New York Giants sign Nigerian tackle Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka from the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program

The NFL’s New York Giants have signed Nigerian offensive tackle Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka out of this year’s NFL International Player Pathway program.

The 6‘9″, 320-pound lineman has limited football experience, training for the sport at the Uprise Academy in Lagos. The 22-year-old is, however, a former promising basketball player with intriguing size and quick feet.

In early 2021, former NBA player Ejike Ogbuaja put out an open invitation for a football camp being held in Abuja, Nigeria. At this time, Mbaeteka was in Lagos and so he made his way down to the camp. Mbaeteka had been a part of Ogbuaja’s camps before as a teenager, staring as a physical forward on the basketball camp circuit.

This time, in attendance, was ex-New York Giant and NFL Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora. The former Giant is an active supporter of growing the game globally both in Africa and the UK. Umenyiora who lived in Nigeria from ages 7 to 14, has played an integral role in finding international talent for the NFL.

Umenyiora steered the big man towards football, leading to Mbaeteka‘s eventual invitation to the NFL International Player Pathway program. As part of the program he

“Once you see him, you know he’s physically imposing and in a year or two, if you immerse him in football culture, he’s going to be fantastic,” Umenyiora said today in a phone conversation from his home in London. “The Giants took a chance. Not much of a chance, I think. When you see him working, you’re going to know what he’s about.

After a strong Pro Day alongside other international prospects, the Giants obviously liked what they saw and signed the raw lineman. Of course, they seemed to have had international scout Umenyiora‘s approval.

“He is big, strong, physical, extremely intelligent, very athletic. He’s built to play offensive tackle in the league. In fact, he reminds me quite a bit of Kareem McKenzie [a former tackle who, like Umenyiora, played on the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII and XLVI teams] He has the same temperament. He’s very smart, but he’s a very athletic player.”

The Nigerian talent joins former NFL International Player Pathway program alumni Sandro Plazgummer of Austria in New York. There is no doubt that Mbaeteka will have the support of the Giants and Umenyiora as he begins to develop as a pro offensive lineman.

Read more about Chigbo Roys Mbaeteka‘s Football Story here

Read more about Nigeria’s budding American football talents

 

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