The NFL isn’t renowned for being a sport that has a heavy foreign presence, with the majority of the players involved in the league being born in the United States. There have been indications of this changing over recent years, with a record 12 players born outside the United States being drafted into the NFL in 2015. There could even be a European Super Bowl champion this season according to these NFL picks. However, which players have ensured that there is a pathway for stars from outside the United States?
One of the most successful European players to have played in the NFL was Morten Andersen. The placekicker represented six different franchises throughout his career and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 2017. The majority of his career was spent with the New Orleans Saints, where he played in the playoffs on four occasions.
Anderson also won the NFC West divisional championship with the Saints in 1991. Andersen was named in the 1980 and 1990 NFL team of the decade and played in the Pro Bowl on seven occasions.
There haven’t been many players to have played in the NFL that were born in Guatemala. Ted Hendricks ensures that there is a pathway to the NFL for stars that want to follow a career into the sport. He played for the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders during his career, with his most successful spell coming at the latter of those.
During his time with the Raiders, he won the Super Bowl on three occasions. He also won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts. The defensive end was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. During his career, he played in the Pro Bowl on eight occasions and was also named in both the 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
Jan Stenerud enjoyed an NFL career that spun across three decades. He began his NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he would pick up his only Super Bowl title. After a 12 year stay with the Chiefs, he moved on to place for three years with the Green Bay Packers, before enjoying one final season with the Minnesota Vikings.
In his final season in the NFL, he played in the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career and was also named a First-Team All-Pro for the fourth time. He is still fondly remembered by the Chiefs, as he was inducted into their hall of fame, and the franchise retired his number three jersey.
Steven Van Buren
The first foreign-born national to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was Steven Van Buren in 1965. Van Buren was bored in Honduras and played the entirety of his career for the Philadelphia Eagles. He joined the franchise in 1944 and played for seven years before retiring.
He was an essential part of the success that they achieve during this period, as he won the NFL Championship in back-to-back years in 1948 and 1949. Van Buren was also a six-time All-Pro and led the league in terms of rushing yards and rushing touchdowns on four occasions.