Discus thrower packs on 80 pounds to make NFL run with Bills

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Gerhard de Beer arrived at the University of Arizona on July 30, 2013 as a 6-foot-7, 240-pound South African discus thrower intent on becoming a football player.

He walked off the Buffalo Bills' practice field on June 14, 2018 as a 320-pound offensive tackle having completed his first NFL minicamp more than 8,000 miles from his hometown of nike nfl jerseys china

De Beer, who turns 24 on Thursday, is attempting to join former Pro Bowl kicker Gary Anderson and former wide receiver Jerome Pathon as part of a small group of South African natives to play a sport unfamiliar to most in their home country.

The journey to the NFL for de Beer meant sacrificing his six-pack abs and putting his promising track and field career on hold to explore a curiosity about football. It meant enduring nights of vomiting protein shakes and sleeping upright to keep down his daily diet of about 8,000 calories. It meant sitting in countless hours of meetings with Arizona graduate assistant coach Cory Zirbel to build his knowledge of the game from nothing.4

Yet when de Beer fulfilled the next step of his football dream by signing with the Bills as an undrafted free agent in May, none of his work the past five years could have prepared him for a conversation during organized team activities with Bills coach Sean McDermott -- about whiffle ball.

"[De Beer] turned to the guys and he said, ‘What’s whiffle ball?’" McDermott recalled with a chuckle earlier this month. "You start there and say, ‘Hey, big challenge [for him in the United States].'"

"They looked at me like I was joking," de Beer told ESPN. "[I said], 'No seriously, is somebody going to tell me or do I have to go look it up?' So they said it’s like baseball but the ball has air in it. I said that sounds really tricky."

Not as tricky as trying to learn the cultural ins and outs of a foreign country, never mind a sport he admits he "knew nothing" about before moving to the United nike nfl jerseys cheap

"There is no manual on How To Do America 101," he said earlier this month. "It’s something that you have to experience and learn as time goes on. Just yesterday I learned a term that was derogatory that I probably shouldn’t use. It’s just things that I don’t know. I’m not trying to offend anybody; it’s just making conversation.

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