Roy Mbaeteka has received quite the NFL education this year.
Mbaeteka, who had never played football, signed with the Giants in April after first being spotted by former Giant Osi Umenyiora at a tryout camp in Nigeria.
Over the summer, the 22-year-old Mbaeteka learned how to put on football pads. He learned the language of the NFL and the techniques of how to play offensive tackle. He played in three preseason games, the first football games of his life.
This fall, Mbaeteka is learning a different kind of NFL lesson. He is learning about the harsh reality of being a replaceable piece on a team’s practice squad, which is where he landed with the Giants at the end of the preseason.
Mbaeteka was signed to the practice squad on Aug. 31. His contract was terminated the next day. A week later, he was re-signed to the practice, only to be terminated again on Sept. 29.
Mbaeteka was finally re-signed to the practice squad on Dec. 7, more than two months after the last time he was let go.
What has his on the team/off the team experience taught Mbaeteka about the NFL?
“That you just keep working hard and nothing is given, everything is earned,” he told Big Blue View on Thursday. “So you earn your keep. So the better I get the longer I get to stay on the team.”
Mbaeteka spent his time away from the Giants training on his own, going to the gym to work out and to practice his pass sets.
“I already know the standard. I already know what is required,” he said. “So I just keep improving on those things.”
The Giants are hoping to develop this massive, athletic 6-foot-9, 320-pound ball of clay into a useful NFL offensive lineman. Even though he has been shuffled on and off the roster, Mbaeteka has developed a love for the Giants.
“I love it. I love the community. I love the family. Everybody genuinely cares about you,” Mbaeteka said. “They really, really go out of their way to make sure you get better, every single one of the staff, the players. It feels like home.”
On the lighter side
What is Mbaeteka’s favorite thing about America?
“New cultures, new people. You get to explore people’s ideas. It is very different from my home.”
His least favorite thing?
“My least favorite thing is the weather. The weather is not working for me.”
In his native Nigeria, temperatures rarely dip below 60 degrees.
“I heard that the snow is coming. I’m looking forward to seeing it.”