There has always been healthy respect between American football players and their soccer counterparts, with many of the NFL’s quarterbacks and wide receivers having started their sporting journeys as college soccer players, before going on to be scouted by NCAA and NFL sides.
While few soccer players will have ever played a serious game of American football, many of them are beginning to get the bug for the American game, especially as more NFL regular season games are hosted in London, and many NFL franchise owners also buy up soccer clubs in Europe and around the world.
Here we detail just some of the Serie A stars of past and present, who for a while now have been big fans of the NFL, with many of them attending games in person or even throwing a Super Bowl party or two.
NFL cheerleaders are just one of the reasons that soccer players are increasingly being drawn to the sporting spectacle that is American football
It makes sense to start things off with one of Serie A’s American cohort, in the form of Juventus superstar Weston McKennie. The attacking forward was the first ever American to sign for the Old Lady, and she has not regretted the decision, even offering McKennie a permanent deal in 2021.
Along with his attacking prowess and flair, McKennie is also spreading his love for American football within the Turin footballing fraternity and is known to have thrown a Super Bowl party for his teammates back when he was plying his trade in the Bundesliga at Schalke. It’s unknown whether he has done the same for the Juventus squad, but it would seem like it’s only a matter of time.
This mercurial Swedish striker is still on the books at Milan and still appears on weekly odds lines despite being one of the oldest players in Europe. He has long made it clear that, if he was so inclined, he would be every bit as popular with odds makers and sports bettors in the NFL as he has been in pro soccer. He made this clear during an interview when he was at the LA Galaxy, in which he insisted he would only make his bow in the NFL if he got to play with Tom Brady. Of course, the current NFL betting odds are unlikely to feature Ibra or Brady, especially seeing as the latter recently announced his retirement from the game, but that might not stop the big Swede inviting the quarterback to the San Siro in the future.
It is not unheard of for an American football to get tossed around at a Serie A training ground, because coaches are always on the lookout for new warm-up drills and techniques
There is something about Roma managers enjoying the gladiatorial nature of the Super Bowl and the NFL in general. Former Giallorossi boss Luciano Spalletti used the 2017 Super Bowl as inspiration, to show his charges that anything is possible. This was because Tom Brady and Co had overturned a seemingly insurmountable 25-point deficit to pip the Atlanta Falcons.
The Portuguese is the current Roma gaffer, and just like Spalletti he is in thrall to the momentum shifts that can occur during an NFL game. He became particularly ingratiated with American football during his time in the Premier League, when he paid visits to the NFL regular season games that took place both at Wembley and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Ronaldo is such a massive presence in the world of sports that he has transcended soccer, to become a globally recognized celebrity. This once led to Johnny Manziel recreating the striker’s goal celebration after the quarterback threw a touchdown.
The former Juventus star has also gotten in on the act of supporting the Super Bowl. In 2018 he changed the profile pictures on his social media feeds, to show him wearing American football attire in an NFL locker room.