5 Canadians to watch this NFL season


Much like basketball, football is quickly emerging as a force on the Canadian sports scene, with the National Football League now boasting 20 roster players from our side of the border. Since the league is a spectacle unlike any other, NFL Canada will host eight Thursday Night Football Kickoff parties in major Canadian cities over the next three months.

On Thursday, September 10, fans of all 32 franchises will converge on The Ballroom Bowl (145 John St., Toronto) to celebrate the game with Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, whose former team will pay a visit to the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in the inaugural matchup of the season.

To set you up for the rest of the season, here are five Canadian players who could have a big impact in 2015:

Christian Covington, Defensive Lineman, Houston Texans

It didn’t take long for 21-year old rookie Christian Covington to get a sense of what life under the bright lights of the NFL would be like. The Vancouver native admitted that he may have been hyperventilating during his first NFL pre-season game. But with the tutelage of his teammates, Covington settled in nicely. He could factor prominently with the Texans and their defensive system, one designed perfectly for his 6’3” 290-pound build. Keep an eye on this up-and-comer.

Austin Pasztor, Guard/Offensive Tackle, Jacksonville Jaguars

It won’t be easy for the hulking Tillsonburg-native to land a full-time spot on the Jaguars’ offensive line. It’ll be tough to beat out Sam Young for the ninth spot, but his 6’7” 300-pound frame works in his favour and will be used to provide stability for the Jaguars’ running backs. If Pasztor does indeed crack the lineup, his versatility will be put on display. He’s shifted positions in the past before, and this quick learner won’t give up his spot easily.


Austin Pasztor

Henoc Muamba, Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts

The 26-year-old Congolese-born Muamba’s story is perhaps the most intriguing. Muamba grew up in Mississauga, playing high school football at Father Michael Goetz Secondary School. He was selected first overall in the 2011 CFL Draft, and after three strong seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Muamba continued his journey as a free agent and was signed by the Colts. GM Ryan Grigson has long had an eye for finding unheralded talent, and as Muamba develops, there’s a good chance he’ll be an impact player on a Colts defense that continues to force turnovers and improve.


Henoc Muamba

Jon Ryan, Punter, Seattle Seahawks

Ryan is the poster boy for Canadians playing in the NFL. The 33-year old Regina native played two seasons with the CFL’s Blue Bombers before being signed by the Green Bay Packers. When he was voted by his team for the Ed Block Courage award, it was evident to all he is a model of inspiration, sportsmanship and bravery. After signing with the Seattle Seahawks in 2008, Ryan’s career blossomed even further and he became the team’s full-time punter. Ryan won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2014 and gained fame in the 2015 NFC Championship game when he became the first punter to throw a touchdown pass in an NFL playoff game.


Jon Ryan

Tyrone Crawford, Defensive Lineman, Dallas Cowboys

If there’s one Canadian who could have a breakout season, it’s Tyrone Crawford. The former three-sport athlete (football, track and field, basketball) was being used at various positions last season before the 25-year old Windsor native solidified his spot as Defensive Lineman and finished second on the Cowboys’ in quarterback pressures. With Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett recently stating that the “sky is the limit” for Crawford, expect to be hearing a lot more of his name this season.


Tyrone Crawford

Thursday’s party at The Ballroom is sponsored by Bud Light, and will visit eight Canadian cities over the course of the season. The tour offers a uniquely Canadian perspective on the NFL and Canadian NFL players.

Doors open at 7 pm with kickoff taking place at 8:30 pm at this free 19+ event.

Prizing will be given away throughout the night, including NFL New Era limited edition hats, and food and drink specials will be available. Attendees will have the chance to win a grand prize of tickets to Super Bowl 50.

Follow NFL Canada on Twitter.



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