DAVIE — Cameron Wake has 95 sacks since 2009, more than any player in the NFL.
But Wake recalls when he couldn't get an invitation to a single NFL training camp. On Friday, Wake told the story of why he wears 91.
"I wear number 91 because of back when I was out of work," Wake said. "When NFL rosters are made, for camp, they pick 90 players. And all 32 teams went through their available players and they picked 90 guys. And so at the minimum I was at least the 91st-best player that they could think of, on every roster. So every day, I put that number on and remember that. I was one of the guys on the outside looking in. It's just a little moment to think of where you came from. And to keep you grounded. Every day is a blessing. Now I'm no longer the 91st guy, but there was a time."
Wake was undrafted out of Penn State in 2004, largely because he played linebacker and was a not a featured pass rusher. In 2006, Wake spent the offseason with the Giants before being waived in June. He entered the corporate world as a mortgage broker before resuming his professional career in Canada with the B.C. Lions. Miami signed Wake in 2009, and after starting only one game as a rookie, his career finally took off.
"You have to have belief in yourself," Wake said. "I go back along my path where I was working at a local gym. Guys would say, 'Hey man, what do you do? Or, what are you in for?' And I'd say, 'I'm working to be in the NFL.' And they laugh at themselves. People who are supposed to be my fans, my friends, my family, not believing in you. Kind of saying, 'Maybe you should give this up. Or move on and try something else. If it's something that you really truly believe in your heart you have to believe it. At the same time, belief isn't enough. Hope is not a strategy. I tell people all the time. You have to go put in the work. Whatever your craft is. It doesn't just have to be football. You have to put in the time, the energy, for the blood, sweat and tears, so that when they do call, literally call, and they want you to come to training camp, which was Canada for me, I was ready to seize the moment. Those two things. Belief. And sacrifice. Put in the work, so when your moment does present itself, you'll be ready."
Wake, 36, conceded on Friday that he sometimes take a moment to "reminisce" about things when sitting at the middle of Miami's bench as part of his pregame routine. Wake also spoke about how sometimes he'll build up "hatred" about the player he's about to face.
Of course, it's not hard to hate Tom Brady.
"Veteran of the game," Wake said. "He knows where to be and when to be there. As a front you have to do the same. Know where to be and when to be there. They get the ball out to playmakers and do their best not to take a hit. We want to do the complete opposite. Every week is a different challenge. He gets it out of our hands. But our job doesn't change. Affect the quarterback, however possible."
Sunday's game, at home against the Patriots, is critical.
"This is the month where you have to lay in the bed you made," Wake said. "These are meaningful games. And all games are meaningful. But these are the times when you can kind of separate yourself. And create a postseason, or otherwise. It's based upon a lot of things, maybe what you did the first game of the year. But these games stand out. This will keep propelling us toward our goal. Or we'll drop the ball and things will go the other way."
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