The Most Successful UK born NFL Players

While the National Football League (NFL) has a sizeable fanbase in the United Kingdom, it would be fair to say that it still lags beyond several other major sports in terms of popularity.

Soccer and cricket dominate the landscape, while other sports such as horse racing and tennis also attract plenty of interest from fans and media alike. However, the NFL is growing steadily in the UK market. This can be seen from the enthusiastic attendance at the recent games held at Wembley Stadium.

There has also been a rise in the popularity of NFL betting in the UK, with more and more online bookmakers now accepting NFL bets throughout the year. This can be attributed to increased connectivity in the world, coupled with strategic marketing by the NFL. Another factor that has helped the growth is the success of UK born players in the league.

With that in mind, read on as we take a closer look at some of the UK-born players who have made their mark in the NFL in recent years.

Osi Umenyiora

After leaving London for Nigeria when he was seven years old, Osi Umenyiora eventually ended up in the American collegiate system in Alabama.

He was drafted by the New York Giants in 2003 and went on to win two Super Bowls – making him just one of five UK-born players to achieve the feat. Umenyiora now works to identify future gridiron prospects in Africa with a view to providing them with a pathway into the NFL.

He has also forged a successful career in sports broadcasting, sharing his expertise with viewers on NFL television shows in the UK. This was proven when he was retained as the host for the UK coverage of the NFL after ITV gained the hosting rights over BBC.

Jack Crawford

Drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2012, Jack Crawford established himself as a solid defensive player during his ten years in the NFL.

Crawford signed for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, before moving to the Atlanta Falcons three years later. A move to the Tennessee Titans followed in 2020.

He signed for the Arizona Cardinals the following season but was soon placed on the injury reserve list and eventually retired from the sport. Crawford was steady rather than spectacular during his career, making 165 tackles and 18 sacks as an NFL player.

Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi was born in London and went on to add his name to the handful of players who were fortunate enough to win a Super Bowl ring.

He played as a running back for the Miami Dolphins from 2015 to 2017 but was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles during his final season with the club. Ajayi was a big hit with the Eagles, playing a crucial role in several regular season and play-off games as they progressed all the way to the Super Bowl.

He rushed for 57 yards as the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41–33 to end their long wait to win the NFL championship. He officially retired in 2022, citing the Super Bowl win against the Tom Brady lead Patriots as one of the best moments of his career.

Lawrence Tynes

Tynes was a teammate of Osi Umenyiora in both of the Giants’ Super Bowl successes, playing a vital role as the team’s kicker.

He joined the Giants in 2007 and ended his six-year stint with the club having successfully made 122 of 146 field goal attempts. His tally included the crucial game-winning 47-yeard field goal as the Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers after overtime in the 2007 NFC Championship game.

The Giants went on to defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, ending their hopes of completing what would have been an historic 19-0 season.

Graham Gano

Gano signed for the Washington Redskins in December 2009 and went on to establish himself as one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL.

The Scottish-born player joined the Carolina Panthers in 2012 where he became renowned for his accuracy in front of the posts. He finished the 2015 NFL season with 146 points, breaking John Kasay‘s team record of 145 set during the 1996 campaign.

He famously kicked a 63-yard game-winning field goal in October 2018, tying the non-altitude assisted record set by Tom Dempsey (1970) and David Akers (2012).

Josh Mauro

Born in St Albans in 1991, Mauro made a name for himself in college football in Stanford to garner interest from several NFL clubs.

He was initially signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent but was subsequently released before being snapped up by the Arizona Cardinals. Mauro left the Cardinals in 2018 to sign for the New York Giants, but was soon suspended for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

He produced some impressive displays after returning to the line-up. Mauro went on to play for the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars before returning to the Cardinals in 2020.

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