LONDON - London native Efe Obada went through the full range of emotions all week as he returned home to play for an NFL team, something he could have hardly imagined just a few years ago.
Those emotions hit a fever pitch right before today's game when head coach Ron Rivera surprised him by presenting him with a new jersey with the C patch on it, naming him a captain for today's game.
"I talked to several of the players and asked them what they thought about it, and they all were all for it," Rivera said after the game. "They thought it would be outstanding. Just before they come together to do the player prayer time, I asked JJ (Jansen) to give me a minute and I presented him with his stars for his jersey. It was cool."
Obada only began playing football several years ago with the London Warriors, a local semi-pro team. He got his opportunity with the Panthers in 2017 as part of the International Pathway Program, and then broke out last year when he had a sack and interception to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
"Man, that was special," Obada said about the moment in the locker room before the game. "I wasn’t even expecting that. I had the number jersey on in the beginning, then I came in, everybody was waiting for me because I was going through our pregame rituals and he pulled out the jersey with the 'C' on it. I was like… I still have it. I’m not giving it back.”
Obada finished with a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry, as he nearly recorded a sack when Vernon Butler knocked the ball out of Jameis Winston's hand.
The electric atmosphere supporting the Panthers had all of the players and staff remarking after the game, but of course it was immensely special for Obada.
“When we were coming out of the tunnel, it was just electric. I had family in the stands which I loved. Most of them don’t even understand what I’m doing, but they believe in me and have supported me for years. For me to be in London and just showing them, it was really special.”
View photos from Week 6 as Carolina takes on Tampa Bay in London.