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UK Players Who Made Waves in the NFL

About 95% of NFL players are American. There are 8 Australians, 19 Canadians, 6 Germans, and 12 Nigerians among the other 5%. There are also a few from the UK including Detroit Lions defensive end Julian Okwara and Giants kicker Graham Gano who we will look at in a moment. Despite the UK’s relatively low representation in the NFL, the league has seen its share of UK players who made waves. Let’s take a look at five of the most famous ones.

Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi is a recently retired running back who spent 5 seasons playing for the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. His best season was with Miami in 2016. That year, Ajayi rushed for an impressive 1,272 yards which was fourth-best in the league. However, his crowning achievement was helping the Philadelphia Eagles win the franchise’s first Super Bowl the following season. Sadly, Ajayi’s career was cut short due to injuries and he never played after the 2019 season. He officially retired in 2022.

Graham Gano

Hailing from Arbroath, Scotland, kicker Graham Gano commenced his long NFL career in 2009 with Washington. He would go on to spend 8 years in Carolina where he earned a reputation as a reliable kicker. One of his career highlights happened in 2018 when he nailed a field goal from 63 yards. He is one of just 8 kickers to ever boot one from 63+ yards. His consistency throughout the past few years makes him an interesting player prop bet at one of the betting sites featured in the bookies list. Moreover, he has been the Giants’ kicker since 2020 and is expected to be the guy once again in 2024.

Jermaine Eluemunor

Jermaine Eluemunor’s career got off to a hot start when he was voted onto the NFL’s All-Rookie Team in 2017. Not bad for a 159th overall draft pick. He doesn’t make this list due to his talent although the defensive end has improved over the past couple of years. He makes it because of his perseverance. You see, he’s been dumped by so many teams that Taylor Swift could write a song about it. He was released by the Ravens, Patriots, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Raiders. Still, he kept on working hard, and in March 2024, Eluemunor signed a 2-year deal with the Giants.

Lawrence Tynes

Lawrence Tynes is another successful NFL kicker from Scotland. Originally signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2001, Tynes honed his craft in NFL Europe and the CFL until 2004 when the Chiefs made him their full-time kicker. He would move on to the New York Giants where he would help Big Blue win two memorable Super Bowl championships including Super Bowl XLII in which the Giants were a huge 12-point underdog versus the undefeated Patriots. After signing with the Buccaneers in 2013, Tynes developed an infection that would ultimately end his career.

Osi Umenyiora

Those New York Giants seem to have a penchant for UK players. They certainly loved London’s Osi Umenyiora who played defensive end for New York between 2003 and 2011. He made waves in 2005 when he recorded an impressive 14.5 sacks. However, he would likely tell you that his most memorable seasons came in 2007 and 2011 when he and the Giants won their most recent Super Bowls. After spending the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Umenyiora left the gridiron in favor of a career in broadcasting. 

Over his NFL career, Umenyiora was a First-Team All-Pro and a two-time Pro Bowler. He led the NFL in forced fumbles in 2010 and was inducted into the New York Giants Ring of Honor.

UK Players in the NFL Have Had an Impact

Even though the UK has not produced too many NFL players, many of the ones that have played have had an impact and will be remembered for a long time. By the way, the New York Giants have yet another UK player suiting up in 2024. Punter Jamie Gillan signed a 2-year deal worth $4 million in 2023. Fans of UK players should also keep an eye on Baltimore’s 2022 second-round draft pick, linebacker David Ojabo. He has a chance to become another high-impact UK player if he can stay healthy.

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