Unlikely Journey

Unlikely Journey

Only a handful of undrafted rookie free agents are able to earn NFL jobs during training camp.

It is rarer still for these jobs to go to Canadians (of the six Canadian rookies to sign free agent contracts after the 2013 NFL Draft , only Mulumba earned an NFL roster spot).

And for those who spent their childhoods in a war-ravaged African country and didn’t pick up a football until high school, the journey to the NFL is an unusual one indeed.

Welcome to the Andy Mulumba story.

When Mulumba was 11 his family left the Congo and settled in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, one of Montreal’s poorer neighbourhoods.

When he was 15 he began playing football, and soon was off to to CEGEP’s Vieux Montreal.

“That year, Casey Creehan was (linebackers) coach with the Montreal Alouettes,” Mulumba told Sun Media’s John Kryk before the Packers season opener in San Francisco. “He got offered a job at Eastern Michigan University. So he was looking for someone to bring with him in the recruiting process. He looked around in Montreal — he looked at a lot of players.”

As Kryk points out in a feature on Mulumba’s journey, Creehan offered a scholarship to Mulumba, who accepted and relocated for four years to Michigan.

Mulumba played in 48 games (31 starts) while on a football scholarship at Eastern Michigan. He earned second-team All-Mid-American Conference honors in 2012 and registered 73 tackles (27 solo), including seven tackles for loss, a sack and two forced fumbles as a senior.

With the Packers Mulumba is listed as a backup to linebackers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews.

NFLdraftscout.com describes the 6-3, 260 pound linebacker as “a hybrid pass rusher with experience in both two and three point stance.”

After receiving an invitation to training camp it didn’t take long for Mulumba to catch the eye of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.

“I thought (Mulumba) jumped out in the spring,” coach Mike McCarthy said after an August offseason practice. “It’s been no different since he put the pads on. I think he’s an excellent fit for our defense. He plays with excellent leverage with his long leverage. He has a nasty streak to him.”

The nasty streak, apparently, can be turned on and off.

“The football game is a violent game,” Mulumba said in his interview with Kryk. “You can’t be out there if you’re playing soft. My coach always tells me to switch gears every time I step on the field. That’s what I try to do. There’s no such thing as a friend on the football field.

“But outside of football, I’m really laid back. I take care of myself. I don’t do too much. I’m not an outgoing guy. I’m a really simple guy, and I just like to keep it that way.”

John Kryk’s complete feature on Mulumba can be found here:
http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/NFL/2013/09/07/21105411.html