Former NFL pro sets a new goal with medical degree from MUSC

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - When Samkon Gado made an NFL roster out of Liberty University, he was defying the odds. And he was good enough to stick around.

Six seasons later, - after playing for the Chiefs, the Packers, the Texans, the Dolphins, the Rams, and the Titans - his football career was over.

It left his life at a crossroads, but the Nigerian immigrant is used to difficult, life-shaping decisions. So, he chose to go to medical school.

Now Gado is just a few months away from becoming a doctor.

"I think the biggest temptation with the NFL is to think you've actually made it once you're there. There's so much of your life ahead," he said.

His youth led him to his future. While he's put down the football and stepped off the field, the game is still guiding him to where he is now.

"I think it definitely helped me get into med school. It's a different story. Not too many people, applicants, can say they played in the National Football League," Gado said. "As the days go on and the years go on, I think it's becoming less of a novelty because I'm a former football player."

For many players in the NFL, life after football is a struggle.

But at 28, when his football career ended, Gado had a clear vision. It was time to become a doctor.

"I can say easily this is the hardest thing I've ever done. But I think anything worth doing is incredibly difficult. I know when I started training that was the most difficult thing I'd ever done. After years and years of doing that, it culminated with being able to play in the League and the most enjoyable thing I'd done to that point," he said. "Hopefully the same trend continues with medicine."

Gado's future has been forged by his past, emigrating from Nigeria at the age of 9. He always hoped to one day return home and give back to the community where he was born.

"People that have that background are more inclined to think long term and plan just to avoid some of the hardships they grew up in," he said.

Football has forever been part of Gado's life story and something that stays with him in the four years since he played his final game.

"I think scoring a touchdown in the National Football League is one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. I don't know that many can compare to that," Gado said.

"I think this is just different. I think I'm at the point of my education or career where I don't get to experience the equal of scoring a touchdown in the league. I'd imagine that's performing a successful surgery or helping a patient hear after not being able to hear for a number of years."

For Gado, that's true now but perhaps his biggest accomplishments have yet to be examined.

Gado is studying to be an ear, nose and throat doctor. He says the next question he faces after graduating from MUSC is where he will do his residency.

His hope is to stay in the Lowcountry.