Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi made some history when his team took the field in London against the Saints. Ajayi was born in London and becomes the first NFL skill position player born across the pond to play in front of his former hometown fans.
The NFL had this to say regarding Ajayi’s homecoming:
“Having local heroes has always been something we see as a key part of growing the sport,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president for international. “Jay’s success has given us a player who gains national media attention and can create headlines through scoring TDs in a way that a lineman, for example, can never achieve. He is someone we can use as a success story when talking to young British athletes about the potential of taking up our sport.”
Ajayi has been the poster boy so far with the Dolphins in London. He has done an appearance at the local New Era store and already had one of the highest selling jerseys in the UK. Former Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora was the first London born player to play in his native country. Ajayi becomes the first skill position player to do so. More than anything, the NFL is trying to reach more fans internationally.
“He is an engaging and cool young man who has created cut-through for us on a variety of digital platforms — first NFL player to have first Twitter emoji — through various offseason trips to the UK,” Waller said. “Jay playing at Wembley gives us the opportunity to magnify all of the above through enhanced media coverage, social and digital outreach and general awareness of his great story.”