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WFT Daily: Sammis Reyes 'Opening Up Doors' As First Chilean-Born Player In NFL History


The regular season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its second season under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.

There's no such thing as being hyperbolic when describing the emotions that came from Sammis Reyes being the first Chilean-born player to make an NFL roster in league history.

For Reyes, it was the realization of a dream -- one that required him to learn a sport he had never played while working for DoorDash to make ends meet. For millions more, the impact of him making the Washington Football Team's 53-man roster goes beyond just a personal "feel-good" story.

It showed that it's possible for them to achieve the same thing, and Reyes' journey is paving the way for other Latin Americans who have the same aspirations.

"It means the world," Reyes told Senior Vice President of Media and Content Julie Donaldson. "I know I'm opening up doors for the people that come after me."

The international spotlight has been placed squarely on Reyes since he raised eyebrows at the University of Florida's Pro Day. The tools he put on display were enough to intrigue Washington general manager Martin Mayhew and Executive Vice President of Football/Player personnel Marty Hurney. Rather than bringing him on as part of the NFL's International Player Pathway Program, Washington decided to sign him outright in April.

Reyes' social media accounts have been flooded with messages from people inspired by his story. Some people have "poured their souls," Reyes said, into describing their dreams and aspirations to him. For many of them, it's their first time being exposed to American football; his family, for example, didn't fully understand what the NFL was until he explained it to them. Now, they're his biggest supporters with his "hundreds" of cousins watching the game as if it was their own.

To the people who reach out to him about accomplishing their goals, his message is to keep persevering. As for the kids living in Chile who might not have known that American football was even an option, he encourages them to give the sport a chance.

"Football is an amazing sport," Reyes said. "It provides a lot of opportunities, not only at the high school level, but the college level and, of course, the NFL level … For the people that don't understand the game, Google it. It's pretty simple. That's how I started, watching YoutTube videos and trying to understand the rules.

"But once you understand the game, it's truly a beautiful sport. So give it a shot."

Reyes has impressed his coaches with how well he's progressed in just a few months. Ron Rivera called him the most physical blocker at the tight end position, and he's shown his dedication to learning the playbook by writing plays on whiteboards placed all over his house by him and his girlfriend.

That work is part of why Reyes earned a spot on the active roster, which he said "means the world" to his fellow Chileans.

"I've gotten thousands of media requests to appear on shows...because people want to know about what the NFL is, what it takes to get there, the ins and outs of it," Reyes said. "It was really a shock for the whole country to realize that, as Chileans, we can do something like this."

Reyes said there's never been any Chilean-born player from any of the four major sports -- football, basketball, baseball and hockey -- so he's breaking the mold in several categories. He's seen videos of people throwing footballs in Chile since Washington signed him, so he knows the kind of effect he's having on his country. He's laid the path to make sure he won't be the last Chilean in the NFL.

"Now they're asking where they can get my jersey," Reyes said. "It's a huge responsibility, it's a huge honor. But at the same, I know it's just the beginning. We've got to keep going. We can't just stop here."

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