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NFL gradually finds players from other countries

Ansah AP

At a time when the NFL wants to get more people from other countries interested in pro football, the best strategy could be getting more people from other countries playing pro football.

As recently explained by Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, the NFL has seen a gradual increase in the addition of foreign players, with 10 players born outside the U.S. drafted last month.  Five of them, including fifth overall pick Ziggy Ansah, were picked in the first two rounds.

Since all played college football in the U.S., it means the NFL found these players in the traditional way.  At some point, the NFL could be at the front lines of searching for players beyond our borders.

“We may be at the tip of the iceberg with this,” Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff told Marvez.  “Some very talented athletes from other countries as they learn our game and nuances will begin to excel more than others have in the past.

“I think we’ve become a lot more open-minded to the fact we will invite players outside of our country where there was once a stigma attached about not having a true understanding of football.  We now say that while they may not have a true understanding yet, the potential athleticism and phenotype suggest there’s some serious upside.”

The goal becomes finding large men who can do what NFL players need to do, and then teaching them how to do it.  “There are big, fast, strong athletes with upside to grow into NFL players,” Dimitroff said.  “These guys may someday be coming in waves.”

Of course, getting more people in other countries interested in football will result in more NFL body types finding the game, instead of the game having to find them.  As more foreign players make their way to America, more will become aware of the path.  Also, as more NFL football is played in places other than America, more will become aware of the game.

One major step in that direction would be the recognition of football by the International Olympic Committee.  Per Marvez, a ruling on the International Federation of American Football’s pending application is expected by June.  Eventually, a seven-on-seven version of football could become the global version of the game.

Whether it’s seven or 11 or any other number, the more exposure the game with the uniquely shaped ball gets in other countries, the more potential NFL players can be found from other places.

Of course, those who balk at the NFL taking “our” game to other countries will surely complain about players from other countries taking NFL jobs.  But the obsession with winning will take coaches and General Managers anywhere for potential players, proving once again that a system based exclusively on merit is the best way to ensure diversity and inclusion.

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14 Responses to “NFL gradually finds players from other countries”
  1. unkrautsalat says: May 20, 2013 7:48 AM

    As long as it doesn’t change the original game, can’t really see a downside. But I just don’t believe the world really wants that 7 vs 7-thing.

  2. mhunterjr says: May 20, 2013 7:55 AM

    why is it suggested that 7 v 7 would be the international version of the game? what’s the draw?

  3. Canyonero says: May 20, 2013 8:02 AM

    I totally agree on the virtues of merit –in fact, it would be great if real life had as much of that as the NFL does. Instead of corruption, nepotism, incumbency, political correctness, yadda yadda.

    But football fans may balk at their team bringing on board a supremely talented project for reasons other than xenophobia. Obviously it could be a blown pick. There’s only a handful of picks once a year, they are all important.

    A player may project well for the NFL, but if he’s never played football a lot of the decision is based on guess work.

    Have to believe the college football ranks will remain the best avenue into the pros for a long time.

  4. mullman76 says: May 20, 2013 8:02 AM

    If football is included in the olympics it will be the biggest farce in the history of mankind.

    There are so many other sports getting chopped or that are more conducive for global consumption.

    It would be watered down to a seven on seven flag football game that every nation would be able to participate.

    Rugby would be a better option.

  5. pigskinofficetalk says: May 20, 2013 8:02 AM

    As the years grow, the game will become much harder to make a final 53. That’s if Goodell doesn’t kill it by then.

  6. westampa says: May 20, 2013 8:11 AM

    It sounds like there are already plans for a game with less contact.

  7. philvil41 says: May 20, 2013 8:15 AM

    Mark my words, Menilik Watson of the Raiders,drafted in the 2nd round,will be a very good player.

  8. shaunypoo says: May 20, 2013 8:57 AM

    “But the obsession with winning will take coaches and General Managers anywhere for potential players, proving once again that a system based exclusively on merit is the best way to ensure diversity and inclusion.”

    Wait, is this the same guy who is such a big proponent of the Rooney Rule? What kind of double standard are you preaching. A merit based system? What are you, a capitalist?

    Of course I agree that merit based is the best way to ensure diversity and inclusion, I just had to clean the Cocoa-Puffs off my computer screen so I could double check what you wrote. You want teams to interview a head coaching candidate simply because he is black because you think that will ensure diversity and inclusion, but not for players? For players it is simply merit based. Why can’t it be merit based for coaches? You don’t think GM’s and owners want to win, and will hire the coach they think will give them the best chance to win?

    I am just having trouble understanding the blatant hypocrisy.

  9. joetoronto says: May 20, 2013 9:48 AM

    What’s held this back up to now is sheer ignorance, nothing more.

    There are players born all over the world that have the talent to play the game.

    Hard to believe for some of you, I know. SMH.

  10. genericcommenter says: May 20, 2013 9:56 AM

    IF the game really develops internationally, I guess there could be some opportunity to take “their” jobs, as well. Such as in basketball, in which any decent D1 (though I personally know D3 guys with 20 year pro careers) player who has no shot at the NBA can still go overseas and earn good money for several years. “They” come over year, but “we” go over there, too. And in theory, the market would allocate the players to the best leagues for their abilities. Maybe a 5th RB or a 4th QB in the NFL could have other options besides Canada, Arena, and semi-pro.

  11. keevel says: May 20, 2013 11:34 AM

    Man!, I can’t WAIT until the NFL version of “The Air Up There”

    I just hope Kevin Bacon is available.

  12. hsatpft says: May 20, 2013 12:35 PM

    This inability to appreciate that most of the world has no interest in the NFL or in American football in general would be funny if it was not just sad. You don’t see Indians whining that Americans don’t appreciate cricket.

  13. reilt25 says: May 20, 2013 2:01 PM

    Hopefully it will give these guys who are late bloomers more of a chance to develop their game in lower level international leagues, just as basketball has. Case and point, Chris Copeland (28 year old NBA rookie basketball player) didn’t develop until he had a chance overseas.

  14. thirdistheworrd says: May 20, 2013 6:10 PM

    genericcommenter says: May 20, 2013 9:56 AM

    IF the game really develops internationally, I guess there could be some opportunity to take “their” jobs, as well. Such as in basketball, in which any decent D1 (though I personally know D3 guys with 20 year pro careers) player who has no shot at the NBA can still go overseas and earn good money for several years. “They” come over year, but “we” go over there, too. And in theory, the market would allocate the players to the best leagues for their abilities. Maybe a 5th RB or a 4th QB in the NFL could have other options besides Canada, Arena, and semi-pro.
    _____________________
    I like your point a lot- I think losing NFL Europe as a league to develop practice squad players hurt the NFL as a whole. Plus, I’ve always felt bad for the guys who have devoted their whole lives to football, worked their butts off to make it in the NFL, and at the end of the day come away with a bum knee and a degree in “communication studies”.

    Basketball players with the same determination can always find a job and a decent living in Greece or Spain (or Croatia, but that doesn’t sound as appealing). So globalizing the game is certainly an appealing option for both Americans and big, fast foreigners.

    On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that you know Terry Porter (whose career is only 20+ years if we include coaching) and Scottie Pippen (whose career is 20+ years only if we count stints with the Tijuana Dragons, Finland’s Torpin Pojat, and England’s Brighton Bears– Not even kidding, you can’t make this stuff up, just like how you can’t make up that his pro career is continuing in North Korea where he is basketball ambassador/BFF to Kim Jong-Un, who also owns the world’s largest basketball shoe collection– like I said, can’t make this stuff up)

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