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Foreign Players Who Have Made It In The NFL


Here is an interesting question: Who would the Americans play if American football was made an Olympic sport? None! No other nation plays American football on a professional level. The only opponent that the Americans could go against is an All-Star Rest of the World team composed of NFL players born outside of America that don’t have American roots. And even then it would be a very small team, so most probably the Rest of the World would have players born outside of America, but in American families.

Anyway, there are very little foreign players in the NFL, and even those that are considered foreign based on where they were born are American citizens nevertheless. They either came to America at early age or have been born overseas in American military bases.

For example, Zoltan Misko, a Romanian born punter with Hungarian ancestry whose parents fled Romania in 1988 when he was 12 years old. They settled in Ohio and there Zoltan discovered football. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2010 and has been punting for the team ever since. He holds the NFL rookie record for a net average of yards per punt.

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Another example of a foreign born player is Israel Idonije born in Nigeria. He moved with his family to Canada when he was 4 years old. He played for Chicago Bears for 9 years and then moved to Detroit. Israel wasn’t drafted by any team but instead he continuously sent tapes of himself to NFL teams and the Bears seemed to like his skills. He also has his own foundation providing help to underserved communities.

There a dozen of other players from different parts of the world who were destined to come to the USA and play football. For example, Gosder Cherilus (Haiti); the two time Super Bowl champion Lawrence Tynes (Scotland); Jon Ryan (Canada); Sebastian Vollmer (Germany) who actually learned to play football in Germany and at the age of 20 went to play for the University of Houston; Sebastian Janikowski (Poland), one of the strongest-legged placekickers; Michael Roos (Estonia); Osi Umenyiora (England) born in Nigerian family; Star Lotulelei (Tonga); Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah (Ghana); Tamba Hali (Liberia) etc.

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All of these have made it in the NFL despite being born in different cultures and parts of the world, but all of them have something in common: they were all brought in the USA as children. However, there are such as the Australians, who have converted from Australian rules, rugby union, and rugby league to American football, for example, Saverio Rocca, Darren Bennett, Ben Graham, Jarryd Hayne, Jordan Berry, Sam Irwin-Hill, Mat McBriar and others.

The most attractive Australians for the NFL scouts are the punters of course. Some of them have made a decent career like Bennett who was named to NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1990s, while some haven’t made a single appearance. Maybe it would be better if they stick to the things they know best, like cricket, rugby, soccer, surfing and gambling. Australians love gambling and their Australian Casino Club.



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