WASHINGTON — Chilean-born NFL tight end Sammis Reyes made the Washington Football Team's 53 man roster on Tuesday and will look to possibly become the first player from Chile to play in a regular-season NFL game.
Reyes made the team as the franchise made dozens of cuts after its last preseason game on Saturday, a loss to the Baltimore Ravens that saw many starters sitting out.
Until this offseason, Reyes has never played a single organized game of football but spent half of his life chasing the American dream. And Washington may have some luck of its own with a 6'7, 240-pound tight end prospect now with the team.
Born in Chile, he left his home country to pursue a basketball dream when he was 14 years old — leaving his mother and father back home. Sammis didn't know much about football until he moved to the United States. Both of his parents played basketball, and soccer was the main sport in Chile.
"I came here with a dream of making the NBA," said Reyes. "I came here by myself not knowing the language or culture."
For discussion and takes on the Samiss Reyes signing, listen to the Locked On Washington Football Team podcast with David Harrison and Chris Russell.
Reyes first lived in Florida, participating in a basketball program. After three months, the program shut down, forcing him to live on his own at a very young age. He would later move to Hawaii. But after receiving a scholarship to play basketball at Tulane University, he would move once more to New Orleans.
When his basketball career was over, Reyes worked as a basketball trainer. When COVID-19 hit, his work decreased.
"I was training people to make money. In between training sessions, I would do Door Dash. I think I was the number one delivery man in the nation," said Reyes.
Around this time is when many of his friends encouraged him to play football. However, the closest Reyes has ever been to football was when he would attend Saints games in New Orleans with his college teammates.
Reyes would take a leap of faith. In May of 2020, he gave himself one year to train to play football.
Reyes entered the NFL's International Player Pathway Program, a league initiative placing international athletes with teams to train for a season. The Washington Football Team saw Reyes work out during a pro day at the University of Florida on April 1.
If Reyes scores a touchdown, the first celebration idea would be to dunk the football on the goal post. However, that kind of celebration is banned form the NFL, so Reyes plans to bring a little bit of his Chilean culture to the field.
"When I score I think I might have to bring out some Chilean dances to the NFL to let them know we can dance."