ELF: Helvetic Guards Sign NFL & CFL veteran linebacker JR Tavai

The Helvetic Guards of the European League of Football have signed CFL and NFL veteran linebacker JR Tavai.

The former Tennesse Titan and CFL Pro has joined a Guards defense loaded with an elite coaching staff and an excess of European players with experience at the continent’s highest levels.

The 6’2 250-pound linebacker spend brings a wealth of pro football experience to Switzerland’s new expansion franchise. The 29-year-old played two seasons in the NFL with the Tennesse Titans in 2015 and 2016. In December 2015, Tavai was activated off the practice squad and played the final four games of the regular season, making three tackles and one sack.

After two seasons in the NFL, the former USC (NCAA DI FBS) edge defender headed north, joining the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League in 2018. During the 2019 season in Ottawa, Tavai was one of the league’s standout pass rushers racking up eight sacks, 51 tackles, and three forced fumbles.

The following season, 2021, Tavai played for the BC Lions amassing 18 tackles and three sacks in nine games for the Lions.

Prior to joining the NFL’s Tennesse Titans in 2015, Tavai was a key fixture on the USC Trojans (NCAA DI FBS) defense racking up 25 career tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, and 81 career tackles, alongside future NFL players Adoree Jackson, Su’A Cravens, Leonard Williams, and Juju Smith-Schuster. In his senior year, Tavai was a feared pass rusher in the Pac-12 totaling seven sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss, and 53 tackles.

The five year veteran of pro-football joins former USC, NFL, and XFL offensive coordinator Norm Chow in Zurich. Tavai is the first American import announced for the Guards defense, joining euro football veterans Tim Hanni, Dominic Leichti, Maceo Beard, Fabio Rothmund, and Timothy Shurmann.

The experienced group of defenders should be coached well under defensive coordinator and former NFL cornerback and XFL coach Otis Smith, along with ex-Detroit Lions coach Dom Clemons. Tavai is fresh off a successful season in the CFL and only 29-years old, he should bring a instant upgrade to the Guards defense.

Tavai adds more buzz, talent, and savvy to a Guards team that has already announced the signings of former SEC quarterback Collin Hill and German Football League superstar running back Silas Nacita. Expect the Guards to sign a defensive back with a similar resume to pair with Tavai as their second import player on defense.

Watch Tavai’s NCAA Highlights here: 

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and