NBA Hypocrisy 101: Fanbases scoffed at the Warriors and their Superteam, now they’re trying to be like them.

By Will Stevenson

I thought the NBA season was over with once the Golden State Warriors finally defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1: Little did we know the NBA Offseason had just begun. With the formation of the Warriors through last offseason’s free agency, they blitzed through the regular season and through the playoffs only losing 1 game to the Cavaliers in the Finals. The talk of the sports world was evident, although the we hate the reality of Superteams in theory, we could not hate enough to not tune in to what they were accomplishing. We were all a witness to the dismantling of the Cavaliers in Game 1 and 2, and even when they seems to “struggle” in Games 3 and 4, they still were able to keep the pressure on in route to another championship. So what do we want as fans? Do we hate the Warriors enough to just give up and let them have their way the next few years, or do we clamor for our perspective teams to ante up to take them down? We as fans and they as athletes aren’t hypocrites are we?

Yes. Yes we are. Yes they are. Funny how things seem to work themselves out once you seem what happens when a team dominates a season in which they acquire a top-5 player through free agency. The same fanbases that ridiculed the Warriors last offseason have now set their eyes on Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul and others. I thought we were against “made up” teams? I thought these players didn’t have balls or whatever fortitude we’ve come up with the describe their lack of masculinity. It is wonderful to watch as fans, players, and organizations realize what is on the horizon: They can either wait and build, or go for it all and hope for some things to break their way. With the space and pace offense hitting its stride in the new NBA, teams are focusing on acquiring as much talent as possible with the salary cap inflation over the past two years. With a looming lockout on the horizon, teams want to get the players they want under the current salary cap model, as new extensions and the super-max approach.

We should be happy the Warriors won this year, and not last year. If the Warriors win last year, then maybe Durant doesn’t sign, even though signing Harrison Barnes to the max and making him the highest paid player on the Warriors wasn’t in the plans. If the Warriors win, then maybe Lebron doesn’t sign a 2 year contract and goes back to his 1 year with an opt out clause. If the Warriors win, then Lebron doesn’t have his championship while JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Delly-Meat, and Mozgov are all on contracts that don’t put them in the 10-17 million a year range. If the Warriors win last year, then maybe this offseason teams are still going around added minor pieces, still think they can get away with an average roster.

What needed to happen happened, and the NBA will be better for it. Teams that we think to have a chance don’t have a chance the way they are constructed, so now they must push the envelope to acquire talent via trade. With offenses being more explosive, having three to four all-stars on one team won’t inhibit ball movement, especially if enough shots are being taken. For middle of the road and bottom feeder teams, now is the opportunity to fleece a contender into taking a potential 26-27 year old star off your hands. Teams like Philly (Noel to the Mavericks), Indiana (Paul George), Chicago (Butler), Brooklyn (Lopez), Suns (Bledsoe), Magic (Maybe Aaron Gordon), Knicks (Nevermind, I doesn’t matter), Lakers (Everybody), Clippers (Jordan), Thunder (Kanter) and the Pistons (Drummond) are all in to take future draft picks for guys who could make a difference on a contending team.

Hypocrites we were and hypocrites we are. We all scoffed at the notion of Superteams, but who’s trying to get a Superteam now? Enjoy.


#KnicksTape – Offseason Volume 1: Phil Jackson Could Use A Posse

By Will Stevenson

We’ve had fun clowning the Lakers and the Knicks over the past few seasons. I don’t regret to think we will still be able to make fun of the Knicks for much longer. With my previous blog, we went through the upwards hope of the Lakers. For the Knicks, well, not so much. Phil Jackson has been on a one-man rampage, even surpassing owner Jim Dolan’s stupidity during the season. Jackson has alienated his own players, front office, fans, and even free agents that won’t even consider the Knicks. Tuesday felt like the day before the trade deadline, as teams were lining up to make moves before the draft, because for some reason, the draft pick is more valuable that the actual draft pick. Until a few days ago, I didn’t even know who the Knicks’ General Manager was. Do you know? Phil has been trying to get rid of Carmelo since he arrived, but yet he signed off on Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Joakim Noah. Lee struggled, Noah is who we thought he was, and Rose regained his scoring prowess somewhat, but his assists were what we thought all along. Somehow, through being pitiful and injury-struck, the Knicks found Hernangomez at center, Justin Holliday as a shooter, Ron Baker as a hustle guard who can run an offense off the bench, and slummed their way to a decent lottery pick. The Knicks could go into free agency and the trade landscape with high hopes and cap money, but not Phil Jackson, he’d rather do it his own way.

I remember seeing the notification, “Knicks exploring trade options for Kristaps Porzingis.” At first I thought it was a joke, then I remember who ran the organization and thought, “Oh Phil”. Putting Porzingis is a move that puzzles everyone, especially if they are looking to bring back a star in return. I would try to make sense of this, but there is no way to make sense of it. Jackson is single-handedly Trumping the Knicks. He’s stealing the groundwork Dolan has laid down over the past decade. The Knicks could be looking at Chris Paul, Griffin, or maybe a sign and trade with Lowry or Paul Millsap, but they aren’t because the whole league knows Phil Jackson is about that Triangle Life.

Phil Jackson is what would happen to Lebron James if he were incompetent with his managerial skills. Jackson proclaimed that James and his business partners were not apt to function on the management side of the game, but it now looks as if Phil Jackson is the one who needs a posse. Jackson “left” the Lakers, Jeanie left, Magic doesn’t need him, the Knicks are terrible, it’s cold, Derek Fisher has become a lesser version of Dennis Rodman, and Steve Kerr is flourishing in Golden State with two NBA titles as head coach. I almost forgot Jeff Hornacek was the Head Coach, and Melo is still waiting on Jackson to leave the organization.

I thought the Kings and the Orlando Magic were the two organizations that were constantly doing things that never made sense. Now, Phil Jackson has arisen as the new shining magpie for the world to see.

Magic, Jeanie and Rob: Lakers Are Making Moves, But Don’t Wait Up for Paul George

By William Stevenson

We’ve had fun clowning the Lakers and the Knicks over the past few seasons. I regret to think we won’t be able to make fun of the Lakers for much longer. When the Buss family was entrenched in off the court drama, things were looking dim as Luke Walton struggled to impose a defensive structure, injuries hampered the Lakers early on, and nobody could put a finger on who would run the operations for the organization. Fast forward a few months, and Magic Johnson an Rob Pelinka (former agent) are now making smart moves to improve the roster. Everything is a long shot to work out with there being many uncertainties with player development, team chemistry and unknown injuries, but as of right now there is hope.

The Lakers now have 3 first round picks and Brook Lopez after trading away DeAngelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets. With Mozgov gone, they only need to stretch Lou Deng’s contract to make more room. With Russell gone, they can draft Ball with no chemistry issues, but they give up their backup plan. They also do not have to worry about extending Russell or allowing his value to plummet while he adjusted to the 2-Guard position. Paul George wants to come to the Lakers, their first “big star” since Kobe and an injury plagued Dwight Howard. The rumors of Lebron James are back in full effect with Magic Johnson at the helm, and the seemingly utter train wreck that is the front office of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Lakers can trade their number two pick now, package their first rounders for George, or stand around and play the waiting game, which isn’t the best play for a team and fanbase that is starving right now. Waiting till next year to acquire George via free agency is a risky move, especially when the SuperMax is still in play, and you never know what can happen in a year.

Honestly, I wouldn’t wait. Although there is no reason to fork over multiple picks when the Lakers have the leverage over the Pacers, they cannot wait around and hope George fulfills his verbal committment. What if the Pacers decide to sign a marquee free agent (they have cap room to do so), George makes and All-NBA Team, and somehow Myles Turner blossoms the way Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic did last season? Then what? You can’t depend on chance for too long. I’m sure the Nuggets and Blazers had no thoughts of giving the max-max to Jokic and Nurkic last year, but now they must. What if the Lakers struggle once again, Randle and Ingram plateau, and Luke Walton isn’t what Magic and Pelinka want for the Lakers, then what?

Lopez only has one year left, and he can be traded before the All-Star break if need be. Jordan Clarkson is also on a team-friendly contract, and the Lakers are looking to move him as well. As we seen with the Phoenix Suns, acquiring players through free agency doesn’t always work as planned. They were expecting so sign LaMarcus Aldridge, so they signed Tyson Chandler, but then Aldridge spurned the Suns to sign with the Spurs. So be wary Lakers fans and management, the time is now. Don’t wait for other teams to catch up, because as we’ve seen this offseason, the teams at the top are gearing up to take down the Warriors, and you don’t want to get caught watching others take down the throne.

No Trust, No Process: Charlotte Hornets Offseason Edition

By Will Stevenson

The 76ers had a slogan of “Trust the Process”. The wallowed in the NBA cellar ever since they were an 8th seed, led by Doug Collins, Jrue Holliday and others. After they were swept by the Heat, they began down the road of professional tanking, getting rid of Holliday, Iguodala, Lou Williams, Michael Carter Williams (ROY), Nerlens Noel and getting the highest pick possible in the lottery. After years of disappointment, it seems to have worked with them picking first in the lottery and choosing Markele Fultz to go with Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Joel Embidd. As a Charlotte Hornet fan, I know nothing about “trust”, and nothing about “the process”.

As Hornet fans, we never really know what to expect from the Hornets. Just a few years ago, we had Larry Brown, we were the Bobcats, and the playoffs were where we belonged. We had no stars, but we had veterans, defense, and leadership that propelled us into a playoff team. We didn’t expect to win the championship, but we were hopeful to be participating in the playoffs, rather than watching the NCAA tournament to see who we’d pick in the lottery with our “pin the tail on the donkey” method. Al Jefferson was productive, but injuries and age made it easy to let him go. Bismack Biyombo wasn’t the explosive rebounder he was with the Raptors as when he was drafted by the Hornets, but sometimes it happens that way. Every so often, a team will whiff on a drafted young prospect. We hit on Kemba, twice. First we drafted him, then we extended him, and now he’s an All-Star level player who is becoming more efficient by the year. Michael-Kidd Gilchrist was a number 2 pick, and injuries have slowed him, but Kidd-G is the player we expect: He hustles, defends multiple positions, rebounds well for his size and can play in the New NBA. Cody Zeller has turned out to be better than advertised, as he was extended and still produced throughout the season. Frank Kaminsky was viewed to be a Charlotte E-Scapecoat, but his volume three-point shooting and defensive hustle is something to be admired in the Space and Pace NBA. Jeremy Lamb hasn’t worked out, but 7 million a year isn’t too bad if he’s just average, and Nicholas Batum is who we thought: a ball-handling wingman who can do it all at a mid-level. All in all, the Hornets are a playoff team if the 3s are falling and the players stay healthy. Maybe.

As we watch the NBA scramble to keep up with the Warriors and then the Cavaliers, the Hornets are scrambling to stay relevant. Without consistent showcase games on Espn, ABC, TNT, or even NBA TV, the Hornets made a move that brought in Dwight Howard from the Atlanta Hawks. I’ve watched teams run and shoot Howard off the floor as teams went smaller, and Howard just couldn’t keep up, stay out of foul trouble or hit his free throws. With Howard having a player option after next season, the Hornets could presumably only have Howard on the books for one season, and with the trade getting Miles Plumlee off the books as well, the Hornets may actually have cap room for Kemba or another mid-level star in free agency. Howard brings us defense, and a player that can protect the rim, but not a player than can play the pick and roll effectively. Howard has his limits, but his strengths should rove well under Head Coach Steve Clifford.

As Hornet fans, we don’t get much excitement in the offseason. There was Lance Stephenson (meh), Batum (eh), and now there’s Dwight Howard (hopefully more than meh, and slightly above eh). Free Agents don’t come here, and trades usually involve someone who will end up on a D-League roster or a Ramon Sessions. Would I welcome a SuperTeam in Charlotte: Of Course! But the only way we achieve it is through the draft and player development. Not every player can ascend as Kemba Walker, but if players can mold into their roles as Cody Zeller and MKG, then we have a chance to have something substanable as a team, a city, a fanbase.

So today is not the day I ridicule Mr. Cho, Dwight Howard, or the inefficiencies of our draft scouting. I’m holding out hope just like the rest of you. I won’t say Kemba will be an All-NBA player this year, nor will I proclaim Howard to return to his Orlando form, but I will wait to see if the Hornets do what the Hornets have always done: Just enough to stay unnoticed. The draft is coming, and even though we are on the outside of the top-10, all we need to do is choose wisely, and with the frontcourt being bodied up by Howard, Zeller, Kaminsky and Williams, the shooting is where the holes need to be filled.

So somebody please stay in Michael Jordan’s ear, because you never know with him. Rich Cho is under fire, and I actually like it. The fire made him go get Howard, and even though it doesn’t change the landscape, it leads us as fans to believe than he’s willing to make a move or two to keep his job.

Fingers crossed everybody.


Fanatics: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

By: Will Stevenson

So there’s a group of people upset at how they are viewed because of one person’s actions. You mean to tell me that one person’s actions can have a negative view on an entire group of people who look like that person, therefore causing others to generalize that group of people based off that one person’s actions?

Nope, I’ve never heard of such a thing. I couldn’t possibly imagine how someone could be generalized off the actions of another that may or may not even be in your sub-group. I mean, in a country like this, racism and bigotry are things of the past right?

Sports are a beautiful disease. The sports we know today were born out of evil. Wrestling, fighting, enslavement, penance, sentences of death, and entertainment for the high status. Every day we witness the buying, selling, holding, and exposure of players. We watch players by in to this concept. We watch ourselves buy in to the concept as well. Out of evil we get grace, athleticism, community, hope, joy, and time to take a break from the monotony of life. We get wonderful stories from youth sports, awesome coaches, teams that inspire communities or the country, and bragging rights for us fans. We also like to believe that the melanin in our skin doesn’t matter with sports. Unfortunately, it’s there. It’s always there, just below the surface.

Spare me the “there’s black people who love Boston” and “there’s non-racist white people in Boston”. I say spare me those notions because I’m not the talking heads. I didn’t receive a memo on what I can and cannot talk about. I don’t have a primitive view on racism and bigotry. I am not the smartest, nor do I have all the knowledge on this lifestyle. Yes, lifestyle.

The lifestyle of a fan is a difficult one. As a former fan, it’s difficult to put into words for why we feel a certain way towards a player, team, or fanbase. It’s difficult to explain how and why we feel the need to yell things at other people we don’t even know. I feel it’s easy to yell “loser” or “bum” from far away to a person or team that we don’t know on a personal and intimate level.

Updated 5/5/17

I wanted to take a few days to see how it all played out in Boston. Nothing has changed, so back to the topic at hand.

We are a bitter, envious, love/hate type of individuals. We go to the gym to play basketball, for free. We play intramural softball or flag football, for free. Soccer, lacrosse, all for free. We don’t have insurance provisions or any way to recoup money if we get injured. We work long hours for not enough, no matter what our job or career may be. We just want some fun. After our long days, we tune in to watch a game that we just got finished playing for free, to watch others play that same game for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars: And we can’t fathom it. Naturally we don’ like to admire those who are able to perform better than us and are publicized for doing so. For most, competition brews within our daily lives. Hell, we constantly bicker, cut-down, and financially shame people who are literally in our same financial situation. Some of us struggle to feed our own families, and are one to two paychecks away from dining at our local soup kitchen. So when we see an athlete not measuring up to our standards, it’s in us to hurl every insult we can think of to show our displeasure. Deep down, we lose on a daily/weekly basis. Our bank accounts aren’t enough, the news is draining, we didn’t get our quarterly raise, the kids are crazy, or our boss is on our ass. Which ever way you have it, we just want a victory. Now, I would first like to separate to paying fans from betting fans. Betting fans have a hedge, not that it is acceptable to use vulgar and racist language, but they have an explainable reason for their verbal displeasure. So if we are betting on the game, we aren’t owners, are part of the team, then why are we so evil towards athletes?

I had mentioned earlier that we are looking for a win, and it’s true. Look at how we cheer for our sports teams. Look at how we defend our programs, professional teams, players, coaches and fanbases. Look at how we go at each other for bragging rights. Oddly enough, look at how we switch teams or bandwagon to a winner and/or underdog in collegiate sports. Our emotions are running high, our hopes are high, and our spirit is low: We just want to win and we want our teams to win just as bad as we do.

Spoiler Alert: Most of them don’t.

At this time I would like you to rid yourself of all excuses for using racist, vulgar and insensitive language: Especially the “I was drinking” and or “I didn’t really mean it”.

Where does it comes from? How does it go from, “He’s a bum” to “Fuck You Nigger”? Let’s analyze for a second: How does anything get to a certain point of “Oh wow, really?” Just like the bubbling anger of road rage, the sports fan has the same feelings inside them. We have to remember that our fandom is from a “safe place”. We are in the stands, the bleachers, outside of the cage or ring; we bought tickets. Even with basketball having the least amount divider between the action and fans, the closer seats still provide a safe zone for fans to spew. We rant, we yell, we scream, we argue, we curse, we cheer in unison, we kiss cam, and we unleash our burdens upon the athletes. The things we say are the things we believe. That may be hard to accept but it’s true. Is anyone interviewing you? Is your boss there? Are your employees there? Is anyone really listening to you? Is not the crowd loud enough? Can any of the player respond to you? What’s the likely hood anyone would even notice? Therefore, we feel we have the right to say whatever we are feeling, because said team isn’t performing the way we like. So is the bigotry in our minds, deep in our subconscious? Is the racist remark on the tip of our tongues and we feel the sports venue is the place to let it fly? Was it just a mistake?

No. No mistakes. No do-overs. No take-backs. The things we say are in our minds, the main question is are we willing to accept it and correct it. I dare to say that most who yell nigger at a ball game are pretty comfortable with the concept, but aren’t comfortable with being shamed by their peers. Like it or not, bum goes to loser to pathetic to nigger very quickly. You remember when saying faggot wasn’t looked down upon? Of course you do. That’s the “locker room talk” that was amidst the airwaves last year. Now, drinking can and will enhance your ability to spew from a distance, but let’s remember those thoughts and concepts weren’t developed from alcohol: They were developed in a sober mind.

If you’re still reading, you’ve probably recoiled at the nigger and faggot. That’s the point. Once you read it, it’s suppose to make you recoil and feel uncomfortable. Now imagine being called these words, while at work, and knowing that’s the only way people feel about you: By those terms.

We don’t like the players as much as we think we do. We will already turn on you if you switch teams or don’t hustle on a play to second base. But as fickle as our fandom is, we are consistent at letting things lie. As American as we claim to be, we sure like to watch other people treat other people like crap. Our sensibilities have been thrown to the wayside, only to be replaced with a “I’ll mind my own business” approach. We hide behind the flag, the constitution and free speech to undercut the simple fact that we will watch another person defile another with language. Truth is, we don’t really care about the players, they are just pieces of real estate to us to which we don’t invest. We moan and groan about how these organizations don’t care for their own players, but in reality we have adopted the organizations notions of discarding players. This is a process that happens over time. Players get cut, injured, traded, suspended, and we just keep on moving as if nothing has happened. When Emmitt Smith leaves you feel something, or when Steve Young or Troy Aikman are gone it lingers, but over time you begin to not notice anymore. Players slowly become nothing more than our entertainment for the day, and if they don’t measure up, we boo. Now booing is another sore subject, but booing is pretty much accepted in the sports world. Racist language is not.

So when you add up all the reasons for why we don’t like the players, sprinkle in our own personal stereotypes we have, cake on the financial gap between most fans and players, and then add a layer of entitlement and ownership: We don’t care for the players.

Adam Jones was given a standing ovation by the fans of Boston during their “Let’s show how not-racist we are”. It’s eerily similar to something else we do all together at ball games, they call it the National Anthem, also the “Let’s show the world how together and patriotic we are”. All this is nice and scenic, except for the fact that specific Red Sox/Orioles game was marred by a pitchers throwing baseballs at players for retaliation of a slide.

So, when we are arguing over racist remarks, we can all come together to watch people do things that are illegal in all 50 states.

Welcome to fandom.

Phil Till Infinity: Jackson still steadfast on the triangle offense. 

By Will Stevenson

*Playing to your player’s strengths should be the focus of  Hornacek , but Jackson continues to throw down his Iron Fist, and we all know how that show went.*

The playoffs are on. I think. While NBA fans around the globe continue to bask in the non-glory that are the NBA Playoffs, fueled by too many days off in-between games and blowout victories, fans of teams not in the playoffs gear up for off-season hope. This is the time in which fans are checking twitter and other sports outlets to get a gist on what their respective teams plan to do this summer. The draft is on it’s way, and with salaries on the rise, your team maybe not be a player in free agency, but there’s still hope through the draft and trades. Hope. It’s it in the air. Unless you are the Knicks.

Phil Jackson is bulldozing his way through this season. Known as the “Zen”, Jackson was able to apply his triangle offense, funneled through his star players and consistently good playoff and championship teams. We as fan dismiss the possibility of any one player thinking they are above the team, or the league, and we chastise them for thinking so. For some odd reason, we haven’t applied the same sensibilities to Phil Jackson. While we were concerned with whose team it was during the Lakers championship runs, Phil Jackson was thinking to himself, “I’m the real mastermind”. If you doubt that notion, let’s take a look at some of the quotes coming out of the meeting between Jackson and Kristaps Porzingis’ camp.

Jackson sat down with the brother of Porzingis to get a hold on the future of Porzingis’ role and the future of the Knicks. I would assume the brother was hoping for some clarification of Jackson’s exit press conference. I would also assume Jackson looked at this meeting as a vacation or a dental visit.

” According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Knicks‘ source tells Bondy that the sit down didn’t accomplish very much as Phil Jackson remained “steadfast” in his ways.

Jackson remains focused on installing and running the triangle. He’s aimed to tailor the teams’ workouts and training sessions around the offense, sources tell Bondy. ” (

Does that sound like a person who is interested in the direction of the organization that would include another viewpoint? If you are an incoming draft prospect, why would you workout for the Knicks? If you are a potential free agent, why would you sign? If you are Porzingis, why would you stay? We already know Jackson has opted in for two more seasons, two more of which will be spent trying to get rid of Carmelo Anthony. What then? What happens to these Knicks when and if Jackson leaves two years from now? The only tradable asset the Knicks have is Willy Hernangomez, and that’s a push. Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, and Anthony are on the books for two more seasons, and nobody is trading for either of these players without a 1st round pick being attached.

Phil Jackson is increasingly becoming an enigma in New York. It seems as if he wanted to be the coach, but didn’t want the coach money, nor the travel strains. He is running an organization into the muck that was already there to begin with. Porzingis won’t be traded, nor will he want to unless he wants t fork over future extension money. He could’ve pulled a Carlos Boozer, but that move has already been done before. With Phil Jackson at the helm, the Knicks will have an even tougher time getting in players, coaches and prospects for their team.

The NBA is new, up-tempo, fast paced, and full of pick and roll action. The Triangle is specific, old school, and incorporates all players being effective and potentially dangerous on offense. Also consider the new “pace and space” offenses are already doing what the Triangle was doing in the 90s. Playing to your player’s strengths should be the focus of Hornacek, but Jackson continues to throw down his Iron Fist, and we all know how that show went.


By Will Stevenson


The NFL has featured games in London the past few years, and now the NFL has given a special “overseas exemption” to four teams for their practice squad. The NFC South has been selected (random division draw) to allow four players to join the Panthers, Bucs, Saints and Falcons practice squad for the season: The new program is called the International Player Pathway. The players include former England rugby star Alex Gray (who will join the Atlanta Falcons); recent college players Alex Jenkins (New Orleans Saints) and Eric Nzeocha (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); and defensive end Efe Obada (Carolina Panthers), who was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 (per NFL sources). With NFL rosters always in flux, adding an 11th player to the practice squad does not cut into the original 10-man practice squad. All four of these players are ineligible to be added to the roster during the season. At this moment, I am assuming that means the regular season only, but I’m sure details will be released on the specifics in the coming weeks.

As for now, we hope these four players find their way through the season, provide a gateway for more to follow in their footsteps.

The four players taking part in the 2017 International Player Pathway Program are (per NFL):

ALEX GRAY, Tight End (UK), Age: 26 – Atlanta Falcons

Born and raised in Bishop Auckland, England, Gray captained England’s rugby teams at Under-16, Under-18, Under-20 and International Sevens levels and played for Newcastle Falcons and London Irish. He was named in the original extended Great Britain Sevens squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, before suffering an injury. He signed for Yorkshire Carnegie for the 2016-17 rugby season and recently decided to convert to American football.

“I have been working hard for this goal and to be told it was going to happen was an amazing moment,” he said. “This is the start of another journey. It is a fantastic thing that is happening, but I am not going to get to where I want to be without keeping myself grounded. Making the decision to give this my all from rugby, there was a big transition period and it was mentally very humbling. When you have to start from scratch again, that was a huge mental battle for me. When I look back I will be very proud of the way I approached this.’

ALEX JENKINS, Defensive End (UK), Age: 24 – New Orleans Saints

Born and raised in Bath, England, he began playing football at the Bath City Academy and for the Bristol Aztecs, earning a spot on the Great Britain youth team. Having been selected to participate in an all-star high school camp in Virginia, he earned a scholarship to play college football at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. He was a three-year starter as defensive end at UIW, posting 3.5 sacks in his senior year.

“This is a chance to develop and become a player in the NFL,” Jenkins said. “It has been a pretty intense time. It feels too good to be true. I always thought I would be trying to do this on my own until NFL International found me. The fact that the Saints will be playing in London this season [vs Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on October 1] makes it even more exciting for me.”

ERIC NZEOCHA, Linebacker (Germany), Age: 24 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Nzeocha began playing football for the Franken Knights youth team in Neusitz, Germany, and was selected for the German national junior team. He played three years at the University of Wyoming, switching from tight end to linebacker before the 2015 season. His brother, Mark, is a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.

“It is overwhelming, one of the greatest moments of my life,” said Nzeocha when hearing the news of his placement. “It has been my dream since I started playing football at the age of 14. When they told me this was happening I was overwhelmed. I am looking forward to it so much. It’s unreal.”

EFE OBADA, Defensive End (UK), Age: 25 – Carolina Panthers

Raised in London after arriving from the Netherlands at age 10, Obada signed as a free agent for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors. He played in the preseason for the Cowboys and spent part of the 2015 season on the club’s practice squad. He has since had spells on the rosters of the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons. ​

“I am very happy and excited about the opportunity,” he said. “I feel like this is something I need to progress and further my career. I am very grateful to the guys who have worked with us and put their neck on the lines for us. It’s a chance to develop my skills and it is going to be nice to be in that NFL environment again.”