When we think of top athletes to have come out of Zimbabwe, we focus on soccer players, cricketers, and the occasional rugby star. American football is not a priority among sportsmen and women here, but one NFL player is going against that trend.
Nate Landman was born in Harare and, while he has spent much of his life in America, Zimbabwe sports fans can be truly proud of him.
Landman currently plays as a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL. He joined up with the NFC South franchise after a promising college career with the Colorado Buffaloes, where he won some significant individual honors.
In 2019 and 2020, the Zimbabwean made it into the All-Pac-12 first team, which is the equivalent of the All-Star team from many major leagues. He was highly rated during his time in the college system and ESPN ranked Landman as the fifth-best linebacker in the whole of California.
Having shown such promise, it was surprising that Nate Landman wasn’t picked up by an NFL side sooner. Having been unclaimed in the draft process, he signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2022.
His first season was spent trying to break through into the first team, while 2023 saw Landman installed as a regular starter. It’s been a sound start to his pro career, but there is much work still to be done.
Despite a promising start to life in the NFL, Nate Landman was unable to take his Atlanta Falcons team into the 2024 playoffs. The team finished in third place in the NFC South which meant that their campaign was over after the regular season.
Moving forward, Super Bowl odds will list the Falcons among the underdogs for next season and beyond. With a little improvement in the current roster, along with some effective trades and drafts, Atlanta could upset those odds and progress deep into the playoffs and possibly beyond.
The Atlanta Falcons may well be a team to watch next term, and Nate Landman will have a full part to play in their progress.
Nate Landman was born in Harare in November 1988, while his father was playing international rugby in the country. When Shaun Landman’s sporting career came to a close, the family moved to the USA and settled in California.
Sport ran in the Landman family blood, but rugby is only a fringe discipline in America. There are similarities between the game and American football, however, and this is where Nate began to show promise.
His college days proved that Nate Landman could make it as a pro, and his solid returns for the Buffaloes caught the attention of scouts around the League.
Since making his debut in the NFL in 2022, Landman has returned some impressive stats while becoming a regular starter among the Atlanta Falcons roster.
He played in 15 games in the 2023 regular season and completed 110 tackles. He also completed two sacks and 14 stuffs across those matches. It was a solid return, and Landman would prove to be one of the most reliable players on the Falcons roster across those games.
Flying the Flag
Despite spending most of his life in the United States, Nate Landman is clearly proud of his roots. On the back of his Atlanta Falcons helmet, the linebacker displays both the American flag and the Zimbabwean flag, to honor his country of birth and his country of residency.
Landman has said in interviews that he considers himself to be from Africa, and he is acutely aware of his heritage. However, after the family left his homeland in 2002, he didn’t return for over 20 years.
April 2023 saw the player revisit his homeland, and it was clearly an emotional experience. If a country is in your blood, it never leaves you, and it was an incredible feeling for Landman to return. His wider family considers Zimbabwe to be home, and Nate now intends to come back to the country every two years as a minimum.
It’s been a long and fascinating journey for Nate Landman from his roots in Zimbabwe to the packed stadiums of the NFL. As the son of a professional athlete, he was always going to be drawn to sport, and he’s now delivering on all of that potential.
Recognition in the NFL may have come relatively late on, but he’s now making the most of that chance. It’s now time for Landman to kick on and prove that he belongs here.
He’s still only 25, so Nate Landman should have a long NFL career ahead of him. His immediate goal will be to consolidate his position with the Falcons while aiming to drive his team into future playoff games.
It will be a remarkable achievement and one that is unique among Zimbabwean sportsmen.