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How ex-Packers phenom Samkon Gado became a doctor

Gado was nervous. He was excited. He was, as he put it, "trying my best not to hyperventilate."

Nov.07 - SportLand: Before he became Samkon Gado, the insta-legend who was the talk of the Green Bay Packers for one sensational stretch of games, he was Samkon Gado, the unknown rookie called up from the practice squad. And so it was as the running back stepped onto an NFL field for the first time 12 years ago and took his position behind quarterback Brett Favre.

Gado was nervous. He was excited. He was, as he put it, "trying my best not to hyperventilate."    

After all, he had started only two games in four years at Liberty University, had not been drafted and had not played a single snap in an NFL preseason game. Yet there he was, in an NFL backfield, facing 11 thundering behemoths, every single one of whom was much better than every single player he had ever faced. Gado couldn't help but wonder, "What am I doing here?"

It's a question he has asked himself often in his life, from when he scored his first NFL touchdown to when he started medical school to the first time he put tubes in a child's ears as an ear, nose and throat surgeon.        

On his NFL debut -- Oct. 30, 2005, at Paul Brown Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals -- he caught a pitch from Favre and ran laterally. He says now that if that play had happened later in his career, he would have burst through the hole and scored a touchdown -- the hole was that big. But before he cut through the hole, he thought, "Wow, that's a big hole. I should run through it," and by the time he got done thinking that, it started to close. He still picked up 8 yards in his lone carry that day. He started five of the next seven games and carried the ball 143 times that season for 582 yards and six touchdowns, including three 100-yard performances. He also caught 10 passes for 77 yards and one TD. His place in Packers lore went far beyond numbers on the stat sheet. He brought radiant sunshine to an otherwise dark 4-12 campaign, Green Bay's only sub-.500 season of the Favre era. He had a bright smile and powerful legs and a great name. Samkon means "truth" in Tangale (a language in his homeland of Nigeria) and represents his parents' belief in the truth of the gospel. He became an overnight hero in Green Bay, and that, he says, left him "absolutely terrified."