From England to the NFL: The journey that brought Jermaine Eluemunor to Las Vegas

Five-year NFL veteran guard Jermaine Eluemunor's first football coach was a video game.

"There was this one game that would teach you about the game of football. … They would teach you about the positions and what every position does, certain pads you wear," he said during a press conference Thursday. "You had to dress a player in the pads he was wearing. So, I kind of learned about football playing games on the NFL website in London, which is funny."

Eluemunor was born and raised in London, England, and at the age of 14, he and his family moved across the pond to New Jersey for new opportunities in America. The youngster's whole focus, though, was on playing football.

He started as a soccer player for the first 10 years of his life before switching to rugby as it was more of a contact sport. But he still felt like something was missing for him on the rugby field.

"Out of nowhere, I saw the Giants and Dolphins playing on TV, and I was like, 'Damn, that kind of looks like what I need to be playing,'" he said.

As he started consuming more and more football content, Eluemunor became a Philadelphia Eagles fan because of the play of Donovan McNabb and DeSean Jackson. He would also point out big plays and thrilling moments to friends who didn't understand what he was always talking about.

"I would bookmark every single team's website so I could easily click on the website and look at their page. I don't know why I did it. I didn't know a single thing about football, no one around me knew anything football."

Once he was in New Jersey, Eluemunor's football obsession wasn't dampened in high school, even though according to the lineman, he sucked.

"I was so bad," he said with a laugh. "These questions are funny because last night I was looking at the emails I sent to a bunch of schools in high school. I'd write this one email and I would replace the name of the school. I think I sent like 120 emails in high school, and every single school said I sucked, and I wasn't good enough."

After the emails didn't work out, Eluemunor chose to continue his football career as a walk-on at Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It's on the Lackawanna Falcons' field that things began to turn around for the English native.

"I guess the coaches didn't expect me to be as good as I was my first year there. I didn't expect to be that good, honestly, I don't know what happened. I guess something just clicked."

He went back to his computer, ready to craft more emails to colleges, this time with a highlight reel. He sent his first one to Florida State and later that same night, received an offer from the Seminoles. In total, he was recruited by 35 programs.

"Still to this day, I wonder what they see in me. … I wonder what got me all these offers."

What they saw in him is likely what offensive coordinator Greg Olson saw on Monday night.

"I would say Eluemunor was a factor," Olson said. "When you have someone come in like that, and you don't notice him, that's a good thing when you don't notice a player that goes in."

The lineman went undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2017. He ultimately signed with the Baltimore Ravens, playing in 17 games across two seasons with them before spending the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the New England Patriots.

Eluemunor, who signed with the Raiders on Sept. 2, saw his first action in the Silver and Black on Monday night against the team that originally signed him. When Denzelle Good went down on the Raiders' first drive with what would be diagnosed as an ACL tear, Eluemunor was the next man up. The 6-foot-4, 345-pound lineman played a total of 69 snaps (80%), impressing Raiders coaching staff with how quickly he stepped up.

"Fantastic," Olson said when asked about Eluemunor. "We were lucky to get him we felt like when we signed him. ... We were real happy with the performance, his first time out without getting many reps, not knowing the system, not being here in the offseason program. Fortunate to have him and can see him getting better every day."

It was not only an opportunity to play for his first time as a Raider, but an opportunity to play against the team that gave him his first chance to play in the NFL and achieve the moment he'd dreamed of since he first started watching football in London.

"When you're playing your former team, you always want to show them what they're missing," Eluemunor said. "You don't want to play bad against them and it be like, 'Oh yeah, we're glad we got rid of him.' I wanted to put it on film that look, I'm getting better every single year. … I didn't expect to play, but when I got in there, I was like, 'I've got to make the most of this opportunity.'"

He did exactly that. Not bad for a guy who says he "didn't even know Las Vegas existed" growing up.

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