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Louis Rees-Zammit becomes an American sensation after NFL switch

From Gloucester to Kansas, 2024 has been a remarkable year for Louis Rees-Zammit. Just six months ago, he left rugby to chase his dream of playing in the NFL. The journey has been intense, featuring a 10-week training programme and signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, he’s vying for a spot on the final 53-man roster, marking his swift rise in the world of American sports.

On 16 January 2024, Rees-Zammit shocked the sporting world by announcing his departure from rugby at just 22 years old. A veteran of the British and Irish Lions and a Rugby World Cup participant, his decision to pursue American football took everyone by surprise.

Rees-Zammit joined the NFL’s International Player Pathway programme, flying to Florida for a rigorous 10-week training camp. Here, he forged friendships with athletes like Praise Olatoke and Travis Clayton, even celebrating his 23rd birthday with them. The training was crucial as it prepared him for the all-important NFL Pro Day.

The NFL Pro Day

The NFL Pro Day was a pivotal moment where Rees-Zammit aimed to showcase his athletic prowess to scouts from all NFL teams. His performance included a 9ft 7in broad jump and a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, which he found disappointing compared to his practice times. Despite his frustrations, his skills shone through in the short shuttle and three-cone drill, earning him visits to multiple teams, including the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, and the Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs.

Personal life changes

Amidst his career shift, Rees-Zammit’s personal life also saw changes. He and influencer girlfriend Saffron Barker ended their relationship, citing the strain of long-distance as a factor. Barker confirmed the split on social media.

Signing with the Super Bowl Champions

On 26 March, Rees-Zammit signed a three-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, the back-to-back Super Bowl champions. His contract details, revealed by websites ‘Spotrac’ and ‘Over The Cap’, show he will earn $2.85 million (£2.24 million) over three years, with an average annual salary of $950,000 (£744,800). Celebratory photos on social media featured Rees-Zammit signing the contract with his family present. He shared plans for his brother to move to the US first to establish their Savitar energy drinks company.

Teaming up with NFL stars

Joining the Chiefs, Rees-Zammit became teammates with NFL stars Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes. Kelce, dating Taylor Swift, is the team’s star tight end, while Mahomes is the standout quarterback. Rees-Zammit revealed messages from both players welcoming him to Kansas City. “Yeah, he’s my best mate now! Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce just saying: ‘Welcome to KC. If I ever need anything then let me know,'” he shared on The Rugby Pod. He even trained with Mahomes in Dallas, Texas, to prepare for the new season.

Travis Kelce praised Rees-Zammit on his New Heights podcast, calling his move bold and commending his enthusiasm and energy.

NFL draft appearance

In early May, Rees-Zammit participated in the famous NFL Draft in Detroit, Michigan, standing centre stage with fellow IPP athletes. He proudly displayed the Welsh flag as his friends Travis Clayton and Bayron Matos were selected by NFL teams.

Enjoying a luxury lifestyle

Outside of football, Rees-Zammit has been living lavishly. Following his breakup with Saffron Barker, he was seen on a date with Sports Illustrated model Xandra Pohl, a TikTok star and successful DJ. The pair were spotted at Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City, sparking rumours of a new relationship.

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Rees-Zammit also got a new ear piercing and attended Travis Kelce’s music festival, ‘Kelce Jam’, enjoying VIP access to performances by Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, and Diplo. He recently hit a home run at a charity softball game, impressing the crowd.

Winning over coaches and fans

Rees-Zammit’s performances at the rookie mini-camp have impressed coaches and fans alike. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid noted his progress and dedication, stating, “He’s so diligent with everything and wants to be so good at everything.” Chiefs assistant head coach Dave Toub added, “He’s done above and beyond what I’ve expected. He wants to be great and he’s a great athlete.”

Fans have also embraced Rees-Zammit, with hosts of the Upperhand Chiefs podcast, David Pokorny and Garett Aimutis, discussing his positive impact on the team.

Rees-Zammit’s transition from rugby to the NFL has been a whirlwind, marked by hard work, personal changes, and a growing fan base. His journey in American football is just beginning, but he’s already making a significant impact.