Anthony Dable from France not only international on Atlanta Falcons roster – Denmark, England, Norway represented too

The Atlanta Falcons 2017 roster features true international flavor.

While France’s Anthony Dable is battling for a spot, Alex Gray a tight end from Great Britain along with giant offensive lineman Andreas Knappe from Denmark are also in the hunt for a place on the Falcons roster. Another Brit, defensive lineman Jack Crawford has maybe  the best chance of making it. He has already been in the NFL for five years with the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. Although not quite in the same category, Norwegian/American quarterback Alek Torgersen is fourth on the depth chart . Torgersen grew up in California.

Gray, a former professional rugby player was asked by Justin Felder of  Fox 5 News in Atlanta about the most frequent questions he is asked by teammates:

“‘Do you drink lots of tea?’ Have you met the Queen?’ I’m going to have to start coming up with some funny answers, I think.'”

Gray took a chance moving from England to trying playing football in the NFL after years as a professional rugby player:

“I was given a choice, do I stick with my rugby career or do I take the leap of faith and go for this? It’s not something I could turn down.”

As Felder writes, Gray is part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, a new venture where each team in the NFC South gets an additional roster spot to be filled with a player from overseas. That player will spend the 2017 season on the practice squad, so they won’t be able to play in any games. The idea is to grow the game of football outside the United States; and for teams, it’s a chance to try and find talent in unexpected places.

Dable played football in France and Germany before spending 2016 training camp with the New York Giants.

“Any league should think about developing the league, going global. You’ve got guys that love football and want to learn and want to compare themselves to the next level and see what they can do, I think that’s a great opportunity for us guys.”

Knappe, an offensive lineman who is listed at 6’8 , 328 lbs. grew up in Denmark before playing college football at the University of Connecticut.

Crawford who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders after playing college football at Penn State, spent the past three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before getting picked up by Atlanta. He grew up in London, and has seen the NFL’s efforts to expand their reach working.

He explained to Felder:

“I see it continuing to grow, I think they’ve done a great job spreading it out,. The international games help. It helps someone like me who comes from a different country, my fan-base is growing in my home country.”

The NFL’s moves to help grow the game internationally have obvious benefits, including revenues of course. For the teams, the recent realization that there is so much talent outside of North America is enticing teams like the Falcons, to begin looking to other countries.

Torgersen, whose father is from the city of Drammen, Norway. Torgersen whose father is from the city of Drammen, Norway, grew up in California and played his college football at the University of Pennsylvania (Ivy League, NCAA FCS), where he was a three year starter and set multiple records.

For players like Gray though, this is a serious, new challenge:

“I haven’t left a very good rugby career just to say I’ve done it, that’s not who I am. I decided to do this and I’m going to make it work.”


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