As a freshman in high school, Vladimir Ducasse was starting to play more basketball and less soccer, his favorite sport growing up.
After all, a child in Haiti, Port-Au-Prince to be exact, is expected to embrace the sport.
Today, at 6-foot-5, 329 pounds, the Buffalo Bills are glad they have this athletic, gifted American Football player on the left side of the offensive line.
Ducasse, left Haiti with his brother for Miami in 2002, wound up at a high school in Connecticut. Despite being raw, he played at the University of Massachusetts before being drafted by the Jets.
He’s a long way from Haiti, and his workmanlike approach to football fits in perfect with what Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott is trying to accomplish.
After practice this week, Ducasse stayed a few minutes extra to work on technique then went to the locker room alone, took his practice jersey and blue rib vest, his undershirt soaked with sweat.
This was a guy preparing for a playoff game. He isn’t caught up in the 17-year playoff drought by the Bills or any of the storylines. He is an 8th-year veteran on his fifth team.
“I’ve been sleeping and getting rest,” he said when asked about the hype surounding the city of Buffalo. “I’ve been driving home and coming back to work. From the minute we got here (for training camp), our head coach said, ‘Trust the Process’ and we are. We’ve had ups and downs but we’ve stuck together.”
During an interview with the Batavia Daily News, Ducasse, or Vlad as players and coaches call him, doesn’t talk about his upbringing in Haiti, rather with his unique accent talks about the line coming together each week, setting records with running back LeSean McCoy.
“When you have someone like Shady it makes your job easier, but whoever is back theRe, they all understand the game, I mean everyone knows what they are doing and it makes it easier,” he said, pausing for a moment, maybe realizing the magnitude of the playoffs, and said, “Every week we were getting closer and closer, it is a great group.”
Defensive end Kyle Williams scored a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins last week and Ducasse made a devastating block to allow Williams to run in untouched.
“I remember my time with the Jets, I played against him, he was always at a high level, I have tremendous respect for him,” he said. “Anytime you have a guy like Kyle – he’s been here so long – when he’s lining up that play, you know he’s going in!”
So how does a guy make it from Haiti to an unsung hero on the Bills?
“Some of my teammates in high school during my sophomore year, when I got up to 275 pounds said ‘hey, you should come out here.’ So I did, and the rest of history,” he said.
So is the game Sunday.
But don’t tell Vlad, he’s too busy working.