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Roberto Aguayo, Other Latin American Players with Potential to Shine in NFL

Roberto Aguayo, Other Latin American Players with Potential to Shine in NFL

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on September 12, 2016

The contribution of several Latin American players in the National Football League (NFL)’s 2016-2017 Season will be a key element to the aspirations of every team to be included in the top game of the year: Super Bowl LI, to take place in Houston. Moreover, this campaign is going to be a historic event for Latin America, by marking the return of the competition, with an official game, to Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.

Most of the eyes will be focused on Dallas Cowboys, a team followed by many Latin American fans, with a lineup that includes two Mexican-rooted quarterbacks: star Tony Rom, who is going to spend at least ten weeks of the regular campaign on the injured list, and newcomer Mark Sanchez, who couldn’t stood out with Denver Broncos. The lonely-star franchise hired the veteran player to mentor Dak Prescott.

Sanchez comes from a Mexican-American family. This quarterback was a star in college football and he was signed on by New York Jets. In his first two campaigns, he led this team to the final of the American Conference and, although the Jets lost both competitions, many people thought that Mark would keep on playing with that franchise. However, his performance went down.

In 2013, he was transferred to Philadelphia Eagles, where he didn’t have much action in two years —barely 13 games, 10 of them as a leader— and his experience in Denver was brief too. We’ll see how he does it as a substitute in Dallas.

What other Latin American players could stand out in the upcoming season?

Roberto Aguayo, the kicker of Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was the Latin American player that attracted most of the attention during the pre-season. This player, whose father is Mexican, was hired during the second round of the draft, after shinning with the team from Florida State University, where he strengthened his position as an infallible player in extra points, with physical capacity to score field goals in middle distances.

Aguayo’s actions in NCAA were very important and he was labeled as the most skillful kicker in American college football, since 96.7 percent of his kicks were successful (267 out of 276) and he didn’t miss a single shot in the 198 attempts for extra points.

Brazilian Cairo Santos is another regular first-team kicker. He was born in Sao Paulo and moved to the United States as an exchange student. He was recruited by Tulane University, where he scored 312 points in 50 games played in 2 years. These results convinced the executives of Kansas City Chiefs, who hired him in 2014.

Last season, Santos scored 30 out of 37 field goals and 39 out of 41 extra points. The Chiefs made it to the post-season and, in two games, the Brazilian player’s performance was great, since he scored five field goals and five extra points. In the 2016-2017 campaign, Cairo will be the main kicker of a team that looks forward to going back to playoffs.

Miami Dolphins trust in linebacker Kike Alonso, who was born in Colombia and his Cuban father grew up in Puerto Rico, to play a leading role in the defense area of a team that has been ostracized and hasn’t played the post-season since 2008. Alonso made his debut in NFL back in 2013, with Buffalo Bills, and his impact in the organization was immediate, so he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year; but, in the two subsequent campaigns, while playing for Philadelphia Eagles, the injuries in his knees stopped him from spending more time on the field. Now, in Miami, along with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, Alonso wants to recover a career that seemed to be promising.

Victor Cruz, with New York Giants, is a Puerto Rico-rooted player that also wants to get close to the level he once had. Between 2011 and 2013, Cruz played three seasons in a row with over 900 yards. In that period, he won a Super Bowl champion ring when his team defeated New England Patriots.

Afterwards, some injuries have obstructed the career of the athletic receiver, also known for his salsa dance when scoring a touchdown. The problems in his calves kept him away from NFL action during most of 2014 —when he only played in six games— and he missed the whole 2015 season.

Cruz seems to be recovered for this campaign and he could join spectacular Odell Beckham Jr. to deliver one of the most dynamic receiving couple in NFL.

The impact of Latin American athletes in NFL is not only about players, but also about coaches. Last year, Mexican-Puerto Rican Ron Rivera did an amazing work with Carolina Panthers and took the team to the Super Bowl. Although they were defeated by Denver Broncos in the last official game of Peyton Manning, Rivera made history by becoming the second Latin American-rooted head coach to fight for the Vince Lombardi trophy, after Tom Flores, who led Oakland Raiders to obtain two victories, in 1980 and 1983.

Will Rivera be capable of repeating the performance shown back in 2015? Once again, the Panthers are the favorite team, not only to win the title of the National Conference’s South Division, but also because the way to the Super Bowl is so long and complex that anything could happen.

NFL IS BACK IN MEXICO

The latino touch in NFL will be even more visible when dozens of thousand Mexican fans enjoy the game between Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders, at impressive Azteca Stadium, on November 21.

Eleven years ago, the iconic stadium made joined the NFL history because the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers played there on Sunday October 2nd, 2005, and it was the first regular season game held out of the United States.

In a bid to reach out to other markets, the NFL has organized games in London and its attention is now focused on Mexico, the Latin American country with the highest number of fans. The Azteca Stadium will be certainly packed with people interested watching one of the most interesting shows in the sports realm. 

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