Sometimes Efe Obada has to pinch himself. That’s how amazing Obada’s life has become in the past year.
Obada worked a mundane job unloading trucks at a warehouse in London last year, but now he’s fighting for a roster spot as a defensive end with the Dallas Cowboys.
“It’s been an amazing time in my life, and I’m having so much fun,” Obada said. “It’s honestly shaping me into a better man and a better person all the way around.
“The people around me are amazing, and it’s a different environment. Everything is just so new to me, but I’m loving it.”
Obada is “loving it” because no one knew his life would take such a dramatic turn.
Aden Durde, a defensive coordinator for the London Warriors, discovered Obada, who played five games for the British American Football Association team last year.
Durde, an ex-NFL linebacker, was an intern coach with the Cowboys last summer and immediately started spreading the word about Obada.
Obada found himself in the Cowboys’ minicamp, armed with a three-year contract.
“Aden Durde invested in me,” Obada said. “I’ve never had that before, and I really appreciate that, as well as several other people around here.
“They have some amazing coaches and amazing players.”
One of those players believes Obada, 23, could have an amazing career.
“He’s definitely a freakish athlete,” Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “He’s very fast and very strong, and he’s learning very fast for his skills.
“Coach was teaching him one thing one day, and the same day he learned and adjusted. So I thought that was really impressive by him learning that fast.”
And that’s putting it mildly.
Before joining the Cowboys, Obada’s only real fundamental experience playing football was his short time with the Warriors. And even he admits that competition was light years below NFL standards.
“It’s at a level that’s probably lower than college ball,” Obada said. “I feel like I’m behind, but at the end of the day, I’m here, and I’m where I want to be.”
Obada doesn’t even fancy himself as a sports person, let alone someone who would be fortunate enough to wind up with the five-time Super Bowl champion Cowboys. That’s why he’s soaking in his newfound success.
“Initially, I fell in love with [football] because of the physical side of it,” Obada said. “It’s an outlet for me, and I just keep falling in love with it each and every day.
“I fell in love with it, and I was passionate about it and I was doing extra work. I was getting better, and I was developing as a man.”
That development, Obada hopes, will help him earn a spot on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster or the eight-player practice squad. But the 6-foot-5, 257-pounder has been on such a whirlwind journey so far, he hasn’t even allowed himself to think that far ahead.
“I’m just taking every day as it comes, and I’m not looking at that right now,” Obada said. “I’m just keeping my eye totally focused on each night.
“Where I end up, I end up. Obviously, I have goals I want to achieve, but in order to achieve that you have to keep your eyes on the road.”
Mincey is thoroughly convinced Obada — with some fine-tuning — can one day be a factor in the NFL.
“He’s got to grow some instincts, just pretty much know the game,” Mincey said. “Once he really gets a true understanding of the game and the techniques — because he has all the ability in the world — he’s going to be OK.
“He’s just got to learn the game, that’s all. Once he learns it, I think he’s going to be a pretty good player.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
Cowboys key dates
July 28: Team reports to training camp in Oxnard, Calif.
July 30: First full team practice.
Aug. 9: Blue/White scrimmage
Aug. 13: Preseason game: Cowboys @ San Diego 9 p.m.
Aug. 23: Preseason game: Cowboys @ San Francisco 7 p.m.
Aug. 28: Break camp in Oxnard
Sept. 13: Regular-season opener: NY Giants at Cowboys, 7:30 p.m,, AT&T Stadium, Arlington