Super Bowl 2015 News: Who Were the Greatest Latin American Born Players in NFL History?
Even though all 32 National Football League teams playing in the United States, there's not much "national" about the NFL. The NFL is an extremely popular global sport and is gaining popularity among multiple Latin American countries, especially Mexico.
Throughout NFL history, we've seen numerous Latin Americans thrive on the football field from various territories.
The first Latin American born person to play in the NFL was Lou Molinet. The young running back out of Cuba made history when he became a member of the Frankfurt Yellow Jackets in 1927.
Since then, many talented pro football players from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and other Latin American countries have had the opportunity to show off their skills. Without a doubt, the most talented and abundant skilled position among Hispanic football players is kicker. Playing soccer at a young age may play a factor.
A name many football fans are familiar with is the Gramatica brothers. Martin Gramatica led the way with 155 career field goals in 10 seasons. In 2002 Gramatica kicked a league-high 32 field goals, and that same year he was a member of the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gramatica scored a record 12 points (four field goals) in the Super Bowl for an Argentinian-born player.
His younger brother, Bill Gramatica, also played in the NFL.
Mexico is home to hundreds of thousands of NFL fans. Dating back to the 1940s, many Mexican football players have showcased their talents in the NFL. One of the most notable is Tom Fears, who played nine seasons for the St. Louis Rams. Fears caught 38 touchdowns and 5,397 receiving yards in his career. He also helped the Rams win the 1951 NFL Championship. For his great play, Fears was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.
Fears also become the first ever Latin American born head coach. In 1967 he was appointed head coach of the New Orleans Saints.
Other famous Mexican-born NFL players include Efren Herrera and Raúl Allegre. Herrera was an excellent kicker who helped the Dallas Cowboys win the 1978 Super Bowl. Allegre, also a kicker, won two Super Bowls, both with the New York Giants and Bill Parcells.
Honduras is no stranger to Hall of Fame talent on the football field either. One of the most underrated players in football history, Steve Van Buren, hails from the city of La Ceiba. Van Buren led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns four times, all with the Philadelphia Eagles. Van Buren would win two championships, and he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
Guatemalan linebacker Ted Hendricks won an incredible four Super Bowls before being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. Hendricks played for the Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers as one of the most feared linebackers in the game.
Throughout NFL history many games have been played outside the United States. A total of eight NFL games have been played in Mexico since 1978. With the NFL experimenting more and more with London games, it's a huge surprise they don't play more games in Mexico City given the close location and huge popularity within the country.