Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/22/11
DAVIE, Fla. -- Cameron Wake will step on a football field Thanksgiving Day. It sure beats the view from a couch. Wake recalls sitting at his family home in Beltsville, Md., on Thanksgiving three years ago watching Dallas wallop Seattle 34-9. The Seahawks didn't have a single sack of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who shredded them for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Seems the Seahawks could have used a guy like Wake. But at that time they were one of 32 NFL teams that had bypassed him. "I remember sitting on a couch watching the Dallas Cowboys play, watching guys I played with, played against or crossed paths with somewhere along the line and in my heart and mind knowing that I should be out there playing," Wake said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida. "I know what it's like to sit on a couch (and) to be on the outside looking in." It was that way for four straight Thanksgivings for Wake after he had gotten out of Penn State in the spring of 2005 and gone undrafted. The linebacker was cut by the New York Giants in 2005, worked as a mortgage broker in 2006 and then played in 2007 and 2008 for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. The CFL season was over for the Lions by Thanksgiving during each of those years. So that enabled Wade to get back to Maryland to watch football and wonder why he wasn't in the NFL. Wake finally got his chance when the Miami Dolphins signed him to a four-year, 4.9 million contract in January 2009. By 2010, all Wake did was finish third in the NFL with 14 sacks and make the Pro Bowl. On Thursday, Wake and the Dolphins will play at Dallas. His mind no doubt will drift back to Thanksgivings of years past and he will feel quite thankful. "I would assume that it means more (to Wade than) to a guy who's All-American, big payday, first round, and who always had it," Wake said. "I'm very thankful to the supporting cast I had in my family. They never doubted me. They never pushed me to give up on my dreams. "(During Thanksgivings, Wade would) sit around the dinner table, the game's on, just like so many other people are going to be doing this holiday. And in my head I'd be watching and saying, Look at that linebacker there. I'm bigger than he is. I'm faster than he is.' And I'm sitting on the couch." It remains a mystery why Wade fell through the cracks. It wasn't as if he had gone to a Division III school. He played at Linebacker U., finishing his Nittany Lions career with 191 total tackles, including 8 sacks and 24 tackles for losses. He had seven blocked kicks. "If you find out, please let me know," the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Wade said of why he garnered such little interest. "There are so many guys, and you can look it up, that were drafted (in 2005) and they're sitting at home now. And I'm blessed to still be playing." Well, let's look it up. Five linebackers taken in the first three rounds in 2005 no longer are in the NFL. "I don't know if it's an indictment on personnel scouts or what the deal is that it took him that long to get to (the NFL)," said Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor, a six-time Pro Bowl selection. "You see the kind of player he is and the ability that he has. It's a shame it took that long but he's here with us. It's not always a pretty road but the destination is great. Wade knows that quite well. He says he takes nothing now for granted. Yes, he means nothing. "I'm very thankful for every time I get to step on the field," he said. "Every time I get a cut and I'm bleeding. Every time my lungs burn. Every time I go through the struggles and triumphs that are part of football. And I appreciate every piece of it." Wade hasn't had as much success this season as he did in 2010. But he's still leading the Dolphins with 5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and 12 quarterback hits. With the Dolphins having won three straight games after a 0-7 start, Wade has been doing his share of celebratory dancing. But Wade, who twice won the CFL Defensive Player of the Year award for the Lions, has earned that right. "Really good story, just great story," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said of Wake's road to the NFL. "Obviously, fell through the cracks and had to fight, scratch, claw to get his way into this league. "He's a very humble guy, he really is. He doesn't kind of forget how he got here and that's probably, besides how he plays, one of the biggest compliments that you can pay a guy like that. He doesn't forget. He understands completely how he got here and everyday he goes about doing his work. He does it with that kind of passion." Taylor said "the great thing about Cam is he kept believing." He sure did. Before he joined the Dolphins, Wade always always assumed one day he would play in the NFL. He just needed to find somebody who believed in him. "Yes," Wade said of knowing he would make it. "Because I just feel that's the way I was built. If I get something in my mind, I don't let it go. I call it a pit-bull mentality. Whatever it is, I was determined that I was going to succeed. There was no obstacle that would break me down If you had told me three years ago (at Thanksgiving), I'd be playing in the NFL, you're damn right I'll be playing in the NFL. And I'm going to do everything I can to make myself the best linebacker period." Wade last season wasn't all that far from that. He was named second team All-Pro by the Associated Press and finished just 1 sacks behind Dallas' DeMarcus Wade for the NFL lead. But there's no shame in that considering Wade was the first linebacker taken in the 2005 draft. As for Romo, he might not have been sacked once when Wade was watching from his couch in 2008. But he would wise to keep a close eye on Wade now that he's on the field on Thanksgiving. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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