January 20, 2011
Former Tech offensive lineman Ed Wang meets China’s president
It was an envelope with the United Stated Department of State emblem on it.
He opened it, read the letter and found himself in a state of near shock.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “I never would have thought something like this could happen to me. It never crossed my mind.”
Wang, a former Virginia Tech offensive tackle who now plays for the Buffalo Bills, received an invitation to attend a State Department luncheon in honor of Hu Jintao, the president of China. The luncheon was held Jan. 19 in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department main office in Washington, D.C. Wang went and took his parents, Robert and Nancy, who are natives of China and were members of the Chinese Olympic team that competed in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“It was cool,” Wang said. “There were a lot of people there that I didn’t know would be there, like Yo-Yo Ma and Vera Wang. It was cool to meet all those people.”
Those at the luncheon included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Attorney General Eric Holder. The guest list included Barbra Streisand and Quincy Jones as well. Wang got a picture with Jones, and he posted that on his Facebook page.
Of more importance, Wang got to meet Jintao. He presented Jintao with an autographed football and spoke briefly to the leader of the world’s most populated country. Wang speaks Mandarin fluently.
“I just asked him how he was doing,” Wang said. “I told him it was nice to meet him, and my parents got to meet him, too.
“It was just a great honor to meet him. We were in a separate room, and he came in and we got introduced. That was just such a great honor.”
Wang also got to engage in one-on-one conversations with Clinton and Biden. He thanked Clinton for making reference to him in a speech in China back in May, saying, “From Yo-Yo Ma to I.M. Pei to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Chu, Chinese-Americans have achieved great success in business, government, the arts, sciences and sports. And to that end, I was pleased to hear that the Buffalo Bills have recently drafted the first Chinese-American to play in the NFL.”
“I thanked her for giving me a shout out,” Wang said. “And I talked to Joe Biden, too. He’s a funny guy. He told me he’d have been an All-American [at Delaware] if he had had me blocking in front of him.”
Wang became the NFL’s first full-blooded Chinese descent when the Bills took him in the fifth round of last year’s NFL Draft. He has been to China a couple of times and plans on heading back there on Feb. 21 to visit family in Beijing and Shanghai. He wants to bring football, as a sport, to China.
“I’ve been working with the NFL and Under Armour,” Wang said. “I just finished a photo shoot here with Under Armour that they’re going to play over there. I take pride in being the first Chinese-American to play in the NFL and will continue to work on something to bring attention to football in China.”
Wang was hindered during his rookie season by a high ankle sprain that he suffered in organized team activities and a torn ligament in his thumb suffered early in the season. He played in six games for the Bills.
“It was a good learning year,” Wang said. “It was like a redshirt year. I’m hoping to play more next year.
“I really like Buffalo. The team is close-knit and the people are friendly. It reminds me of Blacksburg. The fans here love their football team. They’re great fans.”
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