Countries with the most active NFL players
America’s most popular professional sports league—the NFL—has found favor with sports fans outside of the United States. Since the league’s inception in 1920 as the American Professional Football Conference, the National Football League has become a staple of American culture and captivated sports enthusiasts across the world. The interest has led to a bevy of international athletes seeking opportunities to play in the NFL, which has 1,824 active U.S. players.
The NFL talent pool includes Europe and Africa. Europe has been a hotbed for the league with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being one of the most popular franchises on the continent, per Time2Play. Four European countries belong in the top 10 for the most active players from outside the U.S.
OLBG compiled a ranking of the countries outside the United States with the most active NFL players using data from Pro Football Reference. A player’s birthplace was used to determine their country of origin. Ties were broken using the countries’ total past and present player count.
Europe isn’t the only part of the world boasting NFL talent. A handful of African countries have produced NFL players, while Australia and the Caribbean also have athletes who have reached the pinnacle of football. The talent pool will continue to diversify as the NFL expands its reach.
– Active players: 3
– Total players (past and present): 42
Jamaica has frequently been represented on NFL rosters. The Caribbean country is the birthplace of three active players, including New York Giants offensive tackle Matt Peart, three-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings, and Green Bay Packers cornerback Corey Ballentine. Hunter, who was born in St. Catherine, has represented Jamaica as one of the league’s best defensive players with 81 career sacks. Ballentine has made a name for himself as an NCAA Division II prospect out of Washburn.
– Active players: 3
– Total players (past and present): 88
Germany has produced NFL talent for quite some time. The European nation is currently represented by Indianapolis Colts safety Marcel Dabo, Las Vegas Raiders fullback Jakob Johnson, and Washington Commanders defensive tackle David Bada. Each has made the NFL a reality despite going undrafted. Dabo received his opportunity in 2022 through the league’s International Pathway Program.
– Active players: 9
– Total players (past and present): 21
The Land Down Under is known for elite kicking specialists. Australia-born NFL players include the Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Dickson, Houston Texans’ Cameron Johnston, San Francisco 49ers’ Mitch Wishnowsky, and New Orleans Saints’ Lou Hedley—all punters. The country has also produced talent in the trenches, including Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Adam Gotsis, and Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Daniel Faalele. Mailata, a rugby player who was drafted in 2018, has solidified his place in the league without having previous football experience.
– Active players: 11
– Total players (past and present): 34
Nigeria has been consistently represented throughout NFL rosters. The African country is the birthplace of defensive stalwarts including ends Joseph Ossai of the Cincinnati Bengals and Emmanuel Ogbah of the Miami Dolphins. The Giant of Africa is also responsible for Ravens wide receiver and Super Bowl LII champion Nelson Agholor. The University of Southern California product, who was drafted in 2015 with the 20th pick by the Eagles, has amassed 4,470 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns in his career.
– Active players: 21
– Total players (past and present): 131
The Great White North has generated some of the NFL’s best talent, including Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski. Canada, which has its own professional football league in the CFL, produced Dolphins safety Jevon Holland. The British Columbia native burst onto the scene in 2021, being named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team. Canada is also the birthplace of Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard and Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer. Both players were also selected in the 2021 draft. Other notable Canadian players include Ravens defensive end Brent Urban and Dolphins receiver Chase Claypool.
Data reporting by Karim Noorani. Story editing by Mike Taylor. Copy editing by Robert Wickwire. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.
This story originally appeared on OLBG and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.