Damien Mama has no issues being called a “mama’s boy.”
“I definitely am,” Mama said, laughing.
Mama owns arguably the most unique name on the Dallas Cowboys roster for now. And he hopes it’s a name that lands a locker this season.
Mama is among the offensive linemen headed to Cowboys’ camp to compete for a roster spot. The former USC product spent last season in the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants organizations, and is now trying to stick with the Cowboys by adding interior depth.
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Mama’s best bet to make the Cowboys may be as a practice squad player, but he’d be OK with that. He left USC after his junior season in 2016 and would be learning under what’s regarded as the top offensive line in the league.
Oh, and he’d continue the trend of Samoans in the NFL. That, after all, is the roots of his last name.
“It’s a pretty cool story. I just found out about it,” Mama said. “In Samoan villages, you have a high-talking chief from each land and my grandfather was one of those chiefs and he worked under the king at the time.
“What happened was they were traveling on boats around the island, just to scout out land, maybe resources they were looking to find, things like that. They actually had hit a reef. With wooden boats, when they get hit, they split. And so when it split it was called ‘Mama.’ That’s what the split is called.
“So they ship-wrecked on the side of this island and the king at the time had gifted my grandfather with the land. They happened to pull up on shore with and gave him that chief name, ‘Mama.’
“I just found out about that. It’s part of my heritage and my family’s story.”
Mama’s father is from Samoa and his mother is from American Samoa. They immigrated to America, settling in the Los Angeles area. Damien, along with his three other siblings, are first-generation American.
Like several Samoans in America, he discovered a passion for football and is pursuing it ever since. There have been dozens of players of Polynesian descent make it to the pros, including players such as longtime Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Rey Maualuga.
It’s pretty impressive, too, considering the small populations of American Samoa and Samoa.
“There are very few of us. They could probably fit everybody on the island in the stadium,” Mama said. “If you see another guy, you cheer for him. He’s representing our culture and our background.”