sports gazette

Top 10 British NFL Players

Published: 22 Oct 2016

As part of our lead up to this weekends NFL international series game at Twickenham, we took a look at the best British born players to have suited up in the NFL.

1 - Osi Umenyiora

Born to Nigerian parents in Golders Green, London, Osi Umenyiora is probably the best known British born player to have played the game.

He was drafted by the New York Giants and became a crucial part of a fearsome Giants pass rush that led them to two Super Bowl victories.

In 2007 he set a franchise record, recording six sacks in one game, a feat only ever eclipsed by Derrick Thomas.

2 - Lawrence Tynes

Born in Scotland, Lawrence Tynes is another British born part of the Giants recent success.

After beginning his career with the Kansas City Chiefs he was traded to the Giants in 2007.

He helped them to two Super Bowls, kicking overtime game winners in both the 2007 and 2011 NFC championship games.

He remains the only player in NFL history to have kicked two overtime game winners in the playoffs.

3 - Al Saunders

Although not a player, Al Saunders has been a crucial British figure in the NFL and cannot be ignored.

He was born in London to a sporting family.

His great-uncle, Ron Saunders, played professional football in England and even managed clubs including Machester City and Aston Villa.

Al, however, was drawn to coaching American football and has been a successful coach in the NFL for 33 years.

He was the head coach of the San Diego Chargers from 1986-88 and is currently an assistant with the Cleveland Browns.

4 - Mick Luckhurst

Born in Redbourn, near Luton, Mick Luckhurst is another kicker to make this list.

He was one of the earliest British born players in the league, signing his first contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 1981.

By the end of his seven-year career Luckhurst was the Falcons all-time leading scorer, only surpassed in 2000 by Morten Anderson.

Having retired he spent time hosting Channel 4’s NFL coverage in the 1980’s and 90’s.

5 - Jack Crawford

Nothing screams British quite like going to school with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, who was in the same class as Jack Crawford.

Crawford, born in London, moved with his family to America in his late teens and quickly picked up the game.

He is currently a starting defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys and returned to London in 2014 to help them beat the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley stadium.

6 - Ken Clark

Born in Southampton, Ken Clark is the only punter to crack the list.

Most of his success came in the Canadian Football League where he was a 4-time CFL all-star.

Despite only playing one season in the NFL in 1979, it was not a bad one and Clark helped the Los Angeles Rams all the way to Super Bowl XIV.

7 - Visanthe Shiancoe

Born in Birmingham, Visanthe Shiancoe moved to the US with his family as a child.

He put together an underrated 11 year NFL career, most notably with the New York Giants and Minnessota Vikings.

Despite being an excellent tight end, Shiancoe might be best remembered for accidently removing his towel on live television, not realising a post-game celebration was being filmed in the Vikings locker room in 2008.

8 - Menelik Watson

Growing up in Manchester, Menelik Watson had dreams of playing for Manchester City.

However, after being spotted by a basketball coach he went to college in the US and soon transferred to American football, playing offensive tackle.

He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2013 and although injuries have held his career back, he remains one of the best British talents currently in the game.

9 - Graham Gano

Another Scottish born kicker, Graham Gano joined the Carolina Panthers in 2012 after three seasons with the Washington Redskins.

He still holds the Redskins record for the longest field goal made with a 59-yard strike he hit in 2011.

He helped the Panthers to the Super Bowl last year and continues to be one of the leagues more reliable kickers.

10 - Jay Ajayi

Born in London Jay Ajayi moved to the US with his family and found himself playing American football in high school in Texas.

Although only drafted last year by the Miami Dolphins, Ajayi has now found himself in a starting role after injuries set back veteran Arian Foster.

In limited playing time Ajayi has started to make an impact. He rushed for over 200 yards last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers and was named AFC offensive player of the week.

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