Australian sportsmen linked to professional American Football
Australian sportsmen linked to professional American Football include not just a number of successful football code converts, but also a number sportsmen with high profiles either before or as a result of their switching codes.
Although Australians have participated at the highest level of American football level, since the success of Darren Bennett as a punter and more recently Ben Graham, several sportsmen from Australian rules football, rugby league and rugby union have been linked to potential NFL careers.
The punting specialist position requires similar skills to those found in Australian football players and also to specific kicking positions in rugby football. Salaries are up to five times higher and the position lends itself to longevity. Australian football players generally retire at around 30, whereas American football punters can play well into their 40s (in fact, one of the players listed below, Darren Bennett, played 11 seasons in the NFL after leaving behind an Australian rules career when he was nearing 30). Initially Australians sought out American football careers, although now NFL scouts are more often actively seeking punters from Australia
Gridiron in Australia is only at amateur level, so the pathway for Australians to NFL teams is typically limited to other professional Australian sports. For almost a decade, the NFL has placed full-time development officers in Australia, including Australian rules football hopeful Dwayne Armstrong. There is a full-time punting academy, 'Prokick Australia' in Australia run by former NFL free agent Nathan Chapman which is aimed at training and assessing talented punters from Australia to positions in major U.S Colleges and the NFL .
Australian Sportsmen Recruited by NFL clubs
- a) brought to the US by an NFL club
- b) spent time training with an NFL club
- c) played in a NFL pre-season game
- d) offered an NFL contract by a club
- e) spent time on an NFL roster
|Australian sportsmen formerly associated with NFL club highlighted in blue played at least one game at NFL senior level|
|Australian sportsmen highlighted in green are currently on an NFL senior list|
|Australian sportsmen highlighted in yellow are currently on an NFL supplementary list|
|Recruited||Player||Original sport||Original sport position||Initial NFL team||NFL Debut||NFL Games Played||Notes|
|2013||Brad Wing||College Football scholarship with LSU||Philadelphia Eagles||Wing went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft and was signed by Philadelphia Eagles. After being released by the Eagles - August 25, 2013, Wing played a preseason game with New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. Added to Pittsburgh Steelers team roster for 2014 season.|
|2013||Jesse Williams||College Football scholarship with University of Alabama & Arizona Western College||Seattle Seahawks||Williams was taken in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft with the 137th overall selection by the Seattle Seahawks. First native Australian to win a Super Bowl ring after Seattle's victory in Super Bowl XLVIII .|
|2010||David King||Australian Rules||New England Patriots||He was signed by the New England Patriots April 14, 2010, but was waived June 11, 2010. |
|2010||Chris Bryan||Australian Rules||Ruckman||Green Bay Packers||2010||4||Contracted by the Green Bay Packers in 2010, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2010) and New York Jets (2011)*|
|2007||Anthony Rocca||Australian Rules||Forward||Philadelphia Eagles||Signed with the Eagles, however got homesick and returned to Australia|
|2009||Jy Bond||Australian Rules||Miami Dolphins||contracted by the Miami Dolphins in 2009|
|2007||Sav Rocca||Australian Rules||Forward||Philadelphia Eagles||2007||112||Oldest ever rookie in the NFL|
|2005||Ben Graham||Australian Rules||Forward||New York Jets||2005||99||First Australian to play in the Super Bowl. New York Jets (2005–2008), New Orleans Saints (2008), Arizona Cardinals (2008–2011) and Detroit Lions (2011–2012).|
|2004||Mat McBriar||College Football scholarship with University of Hawaii||Dallas Cowboys||2004||138||Went undrafted in 2003. Preseason game with Denver Broncos & Seattle Seahawks in 2003. First NFL game was with the Dallas Cowboys (2003–2011), Philadelphia Eagles (2012) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2013) and de-listed start of the 2014 season.|
|2006||David Lonie||Soccer||Washington Redskins||2006||8||kicker/Punter at CAL before stints with Washington and Green Bay|
|2004||Nathan Chapman||Australian Rules||Defender (full-back)||Green Bay Packers||contracted by the Green Bay Packers and played in 3 pre-season games. Rookie and senior mini-camps with the Chicago Bears.|
|1995||Darren Bennett||Australian Rules||San Diego Chargers||1995||159||most successful Australian in the history of the NFL. Third highest average (4 punts) 59.50yrds San Diego vs Pittsburgh, Oct. 1, 1995 (4-238) |
|1987||Colin Scotts||Rugby union||Arizona Cardinals||1987||first Australian to receive an American football scholarship in the United States|
|1965||Colin Ridgeway||Track & field scholarship with Lamar Tech (now Lamar University)||High jumper||Dallas Cowboys||1965||3||first Australian to play in the NFL|
Professional Australian sportsmen trialled with NFL clubs
- Anthony Rocca (2010)
- Nick Davis (2008)
- Wayne Carey (2002 - Dallas Cowboys)
- Richard Osborne (1994)
- Tony Campbell (1994)
Professional Australian sportsmen public stating an interest in switching to NFL
(either during or after their Australian professional careers)
- Scott Harding
- Brendan Fevola
- Anthony Rocca
- Dustin Fletcher
- Cory Paterson
- Todd Carney
- Willie Mason
- Trent Croad
- Paul Wheatley
- Greg Inglis
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "Official New England Patriots - News - Press Releases News". Patriots.com. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- 26 November 2009 12:00AM (26 November 2009). "NFL punt looms large in life of Bryan". Herald Sun. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- 18 March 2010 12:35AM (18 March 2010). "Former Collingwood player Chris Bryan just a mediocre punter says opposition coach". Herald Sun. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- "Rocca to take another NFL punt with visit to US". AFL.com.au. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Peter Kogoy (17 December 2008). "Ex-Sydney Swan, Nick Davis, sets sights on NFL | The Australian". Theaustralian.news.com.au. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Carey can ride off into sunset with Cowboys from Sydney Morning Herald. 27 March 2002
- Fri 27 May 2011 (27 May 2011). "Harding becomes first Aussie wide receiver | ABC News". abc.com.au. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- 23 March 2008 12:00AM (23 March 2008). "Brendan Fevola feared the sack | Herald Sun". News.com.au. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- "Breaking News - The West Australian". Thewest.com.au. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Troy Thompson. "Three Aussie Punters again for NFL 2008". World Footy News. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Hooper, James (30 March 2008). "Paterson the punter | The Daily Telegraph". News.com.au. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- [dead link]
- Phelps, James (8 December 2006). "Mason left to cool his Jets". The Daily Telegraph.
- COL vs STK 2.30pm. "AFL News". Real Footy. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Williams, Rebecca (31 August 2009). "Paul Wheatley out on high despite strain, gastro | Herald Sun". News.com.au. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Peter Badel (16 May 2010). "Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills invite Greg Inglis to trial as NRL clubs chase Storm star". Courier Mail. Retrieved 23 September 2010.