WHILE the NFL lacks the multicultural cast boasted by the NBA, which boasts over 100 foreign born players from 37 countries and territories, the league is reaching far and wide in its search for athletic talent.
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Patrick Murray, a kicker, debuted in the NFL in 2014 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he was successful on 50 out of his 54 total kicks.
A knee injury saw the only Irishman in the league placed on the injured reserve list for the entire 2015 season, but their was better news in 2016 after the Cleveland Browns added Murray to their 53-man roster.
Murray joins a multicultural field of kickers including Graham Gano (Scotland), Sebastian Janikowski (Poland) and Cairo Santos (Brazil).
And it is not just foreign born kickers that are making a home in the NFL.
The league boasts a French wide receiver (Anthony Dable), a Swedish fullback (Tyler Varga) an Estonian defensive end (Margus Hunt) and Lithuanian line backer in Tautvydas Kieras.
Kieras’ path to the NFL is an incredible one.
As Jarryd Hayne will attest it’s rare when an NFL team takes a chance on signing an athlete whose main focus is another sport, but it’s darn near impossible to find a team willing to sign one who both has zero football experience and whose main competitive athletic endeavour has been throwing the discus really, really far.
, won a scholarship with Mississippi State as a track and field athlete. And while his feats with a discus were impressive, he still holds the school discus record, it was his sheer athleticism that caught the eye of NFL scouts.
At the NFL scouting combine, he measured 6-foot-3, 271 pounds and ran a 40-Yard Dash in 4.69 seconds, smashed out 24 reps of bench press with 100 kilograms on the bar and recorded a 35 inch vertical jump.
All that got him a tryout with the Kansas Chiefs. According to Kieras, discus — amazingly — helped him learn how to train for football in his initial workouts:
“Coaches were so surprised that I had never done stuff. They’d tell me to do something, first or second try I’d do it correctly. It might not look as fluid, but then the fifth or sixth time, I look like another football player … It helped me a lot, discus.”