Best of British: UK Players in the NFL
Which British players are bringing the best game
Recently it was a London homecoming for Efe Obada when the Carolina Panthers faced off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as part of the 2019 London Series. The Nigerian-born defensive end moved to London with his sister at the age of 10, and is one of six British players who are currently signed to an NFL team. So far the 27 year old is enjoying his best ever spell in America’s premier gridiron league, featuring in 10 games last season and all six so far this. So who have Britain’s best NFL players been? And who have been some of the more noteworthy names to transfer over to playing in America?
Judging by his regular appearances on the BBC’s NFL Show, you probably wouldn’t have thought the two-time Super Bowl winning New York Giant was British judging by his thick American accent. However, he was born in London and moved to Nigeria aged 7, then to Alabama when he was 14. Unlike many British NFL players, he did actually pass through the American collegiate system and was drafted by the New York Giants in 2003. In the decade-long stint with the Giants he played a total of 97 games and won two Super Bowls: XLII and XLVI, both coincidentally against the New England Patriots. Being only one of five British-born players to have won a Super Bowl, he ranks as one of the UK’s best NFL exports.
There’s no mentioning Osi without bringing up Lawrence Tynes, too. They won both Super Bowls together, with Scottish-born Tynes playing an important role as kicker. He started out at the Kansas City Chiefs, successfully kicking 68 field goals after 87 attempts from 2004-2006. He then transferred to the Giants in 2007 and spent six seasons at the franchise, kicking a successful 122 of 146 field goal attempts and bagging two Super Bowl rings in the process. He’s probably the most successful Scottish NFL player of all time, and with the right attitude and the right kit, you might make it in the National Football League too. Thanks to Promo Codes For, you can find discounts from a range of sporting vendors like Sports Direct and the Nike Store, meaning you can get your hands (or feet) on an all-American ball.
The 31 year old defensive tackle, who currently plays his trade for the Atlanta Falcons, has been playing in the NFL since 2012. The London-born player was picked up by the Oakland Raiders in the 2012 draft and spent two seasons there. A stint with the Dallas Cowboys lasted from 2014-2016, and he’s been with the Falcons since 2017. In his career so far, he’s made 112 tackles and 15 sacks. Whilst he doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring to his name, just surviving for as long as he has in the NFL ranks him as one of the better Brits to have graced the sport.
Another London-born player, and another British Super Bowl winner. Although currently a free agent, Ajayi played as a running back for the Miami Dolphins from 2015-17, before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 in place of a 2018 draft pick. That move was very fortuitous for Ajayi, as he helped the Eagles to a win at Super Bowl LII against the Patriots, helping his side with 57 rushing yards. However, in 2018, he suffered a torn ACL and was placed on injured reserve, before being released at the end of the season.
We’ve gone through some successful players; however, this guy probably isn’t one of them. You may not have heard of Lawrence Okoye even if you’re an NFL die hard. I’ve slipped this one in purely for the enjoyment of athletics fans. After competing for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics in the discus, the British record holder decided to switch it up a bit, and move to American football. He was signed by the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, but an injury he picked up in pre-season meant he was placed on the injury reserve list. In 2014, he was included in the practice squad, before being waived in 2015. Soon followed practice squad places for the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Chicago Bears, culminating in reserve/future contract with the Miami Dolphins from which he was waived in 2017. This year, however, he returned to the world of athletics, making a surprise appearance at a London athletics event in July. It looks like the former defensive tackle has his sights set firmly on Tokyo 2020 now.
Whilst England are currently enjoying success in the rugby, Wade has made a less than enthusiastic start to his NFL career. Winning only one cap for the England national side, it was unlikely that the 28 year old was going to feature in Eddie Jones’s England World Cup squad, but he would’ve hoped for a slightly better start to his NFL career. After signing for the Buffalo Bills, he scored a touchdown in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, but he was waived by the Bills and signed onto their practice squad for the 2019 season. With a few more years left in him as a top sportsman, he’ll be hoping that soon enough he’ll break into an NFL side’s roster and feature in a few games of football in the future.
Soon to be… Harry Kane?
The current Spurs centre forward has always been a fan of the NFL, and England’s captain—who supports the New England Patriots—fancies himself as a kicker. Whether that’ll happen, who knows? Only time will tell whether he’ll have a career like Osi or Okoye.