Efe Obada only needs to look out of the window to know he’s not in Carolina anymore.
It might be April, but Buffalo has laid on a typical welcome for the Brit, who has swapped the Panthers for the Bills during the NFL’s offseason. As he dials in to speak to the UK media for the first time since, Obada pans the camera to reveal a grey sky and traces of snow, not yet melted, on the rooftops.
Even the weather can’t mask the 29-year-old’s delight, and relief, at having made the trip up the east coast to New York state after emerging from the limbo of the NFL’s free agency period.
“In all honesty, I was excited - before I went through it,” Obada laughs. “It was an emotional rollercoaster, I enjoyed it, it was a good experience… no, honestly it was stressful!
“I’m trying to sugarcoat it but it was stressful, everything was up in the air.
“But I feel like I landed in the right place and I made a good decision for my future and my family.”
A good decision and a brave one, too, for in choosing to join the AFC East champions, Obada turned down the chance to be reunited with coach Ron Rivera, a man who knows him better than almost anyone in the NFL, having handed him his debut in the league during his time in charge of the Panthers.
“I had a few offers, a few teams that were interested,” Obada says. “It came down to a decision between Washington [Football Team] and Buffalo.
“Obviously, Washington would’ve been a connection with Ron Rivera, the fact that he gave me my start and the fact that he’s a great man. He makes you not just a better player but a better man.
“[But] ultimately, I felt like I made the right decision coming to Buffalo, with the fans and the culture.”
Carolina did not manage a winning season in any of Obada’s three campaigns on their active roster and the defensive end is yet to taste playoff football.
It would be a disappointment if that did not change this year, though - the Bills came within one match of reaching the Super Bowl last season, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game - and Obada says he is ready to help get them over the line.
“I’m coming in, I’m going to buy into the process,” he adds. “I know the standard, I know what’s demanded of me and what’s required of me.
“I’m here to do whatever it takes to help this team win, whether it’s on defence, special teams, whatever. That’s been my mentality throughout my whole career.”
Obada is not the only Brit in Buffalo, with former rugby union star Christian Wade currently on the Bills’ practice squad, while his new teammates will include star quarterback Josh Allen and All-Pro wide-receiver Stefon Diggs.
The ranks will be bolstered further when the NFL Draft takes place next week. Obada’s own route into the league came via the International Player Pathway, but with three graduates of London’s NFL Academy having recently received Division 1 college offers in the US, and numerous others earning scholarships at other American, Canadian or British universities, he believes it is only a matter of time before one of them enters the professional ranks via the more conventional route.
“I don’t think we’re far off,” he says. “We’re getting a lot of guys in the door right now in terms of getting them opportunities in college and then it’s up to them to make the most of that opportunity, stay healthy and make the impact.
“Right now, it’s myself and Christian and guys on the International Player Pathway flying the flag - but when it does it’ll be those guys flying the flag and showing that it’s possible through the NFL Academy. We’re not far off, a couple of years maybe.”
It’s been just over six years since Obada crossed the Atlantic to pursue his NFL dream, and you get a sense of how indoctrinated into US sporting culture he has become when the subject of the European Super League is raised.
“I’m not a [football] fan but it’s generated so much hype that you can’t escape it,” he says. “You know what, to be honest, can you blame them? It’s a company, it’s a business…”
Super League - not so much. But Super Bowl? In Buffalo, who knows…
Watch the NFL Draft live on Sky Sports NFL and NFL Game Pass on Thursday, April 29, with live coverage starting from 8pm, and catch a special NFL Draft show on Sunday here.