By James Fotheringham (@NFLHypeTrain)
With a bit of free time available for a change, I thought it may be fun to create the most British team I could, without just cheating and saying the Cleveland Browns (since we like an underdog and never succeeding). There’s a lot of artistic licence and some imagination which at least makes me sound like a Russell Wilson scramble.
Anyway, here’s what I came up with:
QB- Matt Ryan
Goalkeeper for premier league side Brighton. We love our soccer and since there is only ever 1 QB on the field for each team at once (playing the position, I’m ignoring the Taysom Hill role) and there is only one goalkeeper on each team, it fits in some way. It’s still the backfield in some way.
RB- Bo Scarborough
Oh I do like the be beside the seaside. A favourite haunt of mine in my childhood was Scarborough Sea front. With attractions such as the Sea Life Centre and the North Bay Railway (a personal favourite) it’s a very British seaside town and to have a namesake in the NFL seem fair.
RB- Jay Ajayi
London’s own… although it could soon be Christian Wade in this spot. Ajayi is at least a Brit with a Superbowl ring, even if he didn’t do an awful lot with the Eagles in that run.
He moved to the US at the age of 7 so had the full school and college experience (Boise State), before being drafted to the NFL by Miami. He had some memorable 200yard games where he still is one of only 4 people to have two back to back. In 2017 he was traded mid-season to the Eagles and despite only playing 7 games, gaining 499 yards on 70 carries and 10 receptions, he did help them to a Superbowl ring.
After missing a long time through injury and being waived, he recently returned to the Eagles, although he is yet to see the ball. He can have the occasional mega day but has many days just tinged with disappointment. Sounds very British to me.
WR- Kenny Britt
Britt by name, and in being disappointing, an underdog that never succeeded and always last in the queue for targets, he’s even a Brit by nature.
There’s never been a British Wide Receiver even close to the NFL so this position was hard to club together. That being said, the old jokes about the England Cricket Team make me wonder if we are a nation that can’t catch more than a cold.
WR- Odell Beckham
Shame he doesn’t wear number 7 really. We definitely love our soccer and David Beckham is a name that the whole world knows. You thought there would only ever be one Beckham, but here we are, a different Football but a Beckham who is a high end celebrity with some skills. Not quite as much Posh when it comes to Odell though.
TE – Alex Grey
The former Rugby Union player is currently on injured reserve and on a futures contract with the Falcons but he’s still looking to forge a career in the NFL, although even making the field once in a regular season game looks like it will be an achievement. Apart from Mark Andrews sounding like he should be a London City banker, he’s all I have for this one.
With our sense of humour, the idea of a Tight End is amusing and with players like Ertz and Eifert providing amusing team names (My Ball Zach Ertz, My Tight End Ertz when Eifert and so on), there’s plenty of wit to be had here.
K- Graham Gano
He’s a Scot Gano, Ya know. He’s by no means the only Scot very good at kicking a ball a long way and high over the bar. He’s not too bad at getting it between the posts which is why he’s in the NFL.
P- Jamie Gillan
The Scottish Hammer even gets his home country into his nickname. #Proud. Like most proud Scots he would never have accepted the British Hammer and while he’s a Pro Bowl Calibre player, barely anyone has ever heard of him. In Scotland, the UK and even in Cleveland, not a lot of people know the absolute rarity which is happening on their doorstep.
Individual defensive players (IDP)
DB- Earl Thomas
No UK link, just sounds like a visitor to Downton Abbey. Other similar links can be found with Duke Johnson and Bishop Sankey (remember him?).
DL- Jack Crawford
One of the longest serving exports to the NFL. Currently in Atlanta, although limited on snaps. He’s not going to be on Fantasy teams where you play IDP but he’s still flying the flag and is one of the modern player who showed (and still show) the way.
He was a 5th round pick in 2012 for the Oakland Raiders and also had a spell at the Cowboys. He did move across to the USA in 2005 at the age of 17 and went through the college system at Penn State, but he was still born in London.
Interestingly, he shared a class in London with Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame.
DE/LB- Efe Obada
From Nigeria to Netherlands to the UK before the age of 10. Homeless in London, eventually fostered, played for the London Warriors in BAFA at DE and TE and now plies his trade in Carolina as a DE.
The Cowboys, Chiefs and Falcons all took a look at him but on when the Panthers swept him up in May 2017 did he finally stick thanks to the International Pathway program.
He became the first International Pathway player to make a 53 man roster and by week 3 in 2018 he was playing in a regular season game. That debut was memorable as he got a sack and an interception, was given the game ball and names defensive player of the week.
He’s been quieter since then but is still on the team and came over to play in London earlier this year.