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Wang looks to open doors for Chinese players in NFL

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-27 09:18
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Buffalo Bills pick Hokie lineman in fifth round to create history

BEIJING - Ed Wang made history on Sunday by becoming the first player of full Chinese descent to be drafted in the National Football League (NFL).

Wang looks to open doors for Chinese players in NFL
For Buffalo Bills, Chinese-American Ed Wang appears to be a promising prospect with a unique blend of size, agility and athleticism. Provided for China Daily

Wang was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round. To the Bills, Wang is a promising prospect with a unique blend of size, agility and athleticism. However, before even setting foot on an NFL field, Wang is already a trailblazer for thousands of people in China who never thought they would see a Chinese face in an NFL uniform.

At 6'5" and 315 pounds (1.95m and 143kg), Wang was among the largest offensive linemen selected in the draft. A solid outing at the NFL Combine in February - 5.14 at the 40-yard dash and 29 reps on the bench - and the subsequent Virginia Tech Pro Day on March 18, propelled Wang's stocks, ultimately resulting in his selection by the Bills.

When the call came, Wang was waiting at home with his family.

Wang looks to open doors for Chinese players in NFL

"I am just really excited and happy that I got the opportunity to come to the Bills," Wang said. "It (being drafted as the first Chinese player) is really important to me. It means a lot to me that I was able to be the first one to do it so. I tooka lot of pride in that."

A tight end in high school, Wang switched to tackle in his third year at Virginia Tech and quickly became the anchor of the Hokies' offensive line. Wang has improved leaps and bounds as time has gone on and his best performances in 2008 were in the ACC Championship game and the Orange Bowl.

He is a relatively big tackle who is blessed with natural athleticism and exceptional bloodlines - both his parents were members of Chinese Olympic teams in the 1970s. His father, Robert Wang, was a high jumper, while his mother, Nancy, ran the 100m hurdles. Wang's brother, David, is a 6-foot-2, 290 pound offensive guard who red-shirted (inactive player for purpose of prolonged athletic eligibility) last year at Virginia Tech. The Wang family made its Chinese television debut on CCTV5's NFL China Blitz last year and his ethnicity has been a major topic of discussion in China and the US.

"He's been a three-year starter at Virginia Tech. He's got size. He's got strength. He's really a good athlete as far as his quickness and body control. He plays well on his feet and he can run," said Doug Majeski, the Buffalo Bills' coordinator of college scouting, "he's gotten better each year and we hope he still continues to improve for us."

The offensive line is an integral part of a football team's offense, providing protection to the quarterbacks and running backs. As a left tackle, Wang is charged with protecting the quarterback's "blind side" and is often asked to take on the opposing team's top defensive rushers. The left tackle is often regarded as one of the highest priority positions on a football squad. It is therefore also one of the highest paid positions in the NFL.

For now, the 23-year-old can't wait for the start of training camp in July. Wang believes his call of duty as an NFL player goes beyond that of professional success, he also feels he must be a source of inspiration to the Chinese community worldwide. "My Chinese identity is very important to me. Hopefully, this will inspire other Chinese people to learn about and play football as well." said Wang.

NFL China plans to work closely with Wang to promote the sport and the league in China's largely untapped market.

"NFL China congratulates Ed Wang on this momentous milestone and being drafted by the Buffalo Bills. He is a gifted athlete with tremendous potential and we look forward to seeing him play his first NFL game," said Michael Stokes, managing director of NFL China. "We are also excited to work with Ed on growing the game of football here in China, but for now we wish him the best of luck in training camp with the Bills."