6 Latinx Players Making Noise in The NFL

The NFL is growing in popularity among the Hispanic and Latinx population, and a handful of players with Hispanic and Latinx roots are making a difference with their NFL teams

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The NFL is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the U.S. A big portion of the fan base is Hispanic or Latinx. Nielsen Media put out a statistic in 2015 that said Hispanics accounted for 8.7% of the viewership for the 2014 season. An ESPN poll showed that 28.7 million Hispanic Americans considered themselves fans of the NFL. The NFL took notice and has even played some regular season games in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico.
There have been players throughout the history of the NFL with Latinx and Hispanic roots. Some Latinx players like Tom Fears, Tony Gonzalez and Anthony Munoz, have even been skilled enough to become enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. It should also be noted that former player turned head coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Football team is of Puerto Rican and Mexican Descent, and is the only Latinx head coach currently in the NFL.
Yet, with all the popularity the NFL has amassed with this demographic, there really aren’t that many players currently in the NFL from Latin american countries or with Latinx roots. There aren’t many well known NFL players that Latinx kids can look up to who look like them. Here are a few players with Latinx backgrounds that deserve recognition for making an imprint on the league.

Blake Martinez– Linebacker for The New York Giants

Photo by Michael Le on flickr.com

This former Stanford University linebacker is Mexican-American. Martinez was drafted in the fourth-round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. For the last three years Martinez consistently ranked second in the entire NFL in combined tackles. Martinez’s performance with Green Bay prompted the New York Giants to sign Martinez to a three-year $30 million contract in free agency. In his first season with the Giants, Martinez is among league leaders in combined tackles with 43 through Week 4. Martinez has made two playoff appearances in his career, including a trip to the NFC Championship game last season.

Kiko Alonso– Linebacker for the New Orleans Saints

Christian “Kiko” Alonso is mixed. His father Carlos was born in Cuba but was raised in Puerto Rico, and his mother Monica is Colombian. Alonso fully embraces his heritage. He has been known to play reggaeton in the locker room and you can find him on Instagram at @el_bravo47 where he posts in both English and Spanish. Alonso is probably the most accomplished player on this list. In his seven seasons in the NFL he has racked up 588 total tackles and was part of the 2016 All-Rookie Team. Three times in his career Alonso has eclipsed 100 tackles. He is currently under contract with the New Orleans Saints, but he has also played for the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. Last season Alonso helped New Orleans make a Wildcard appearance in the 2019 playoffs after winning the NFC South with the Saints.

Rigoberto Sanchez– Punter for the Indianapolis Colts

Sanchez is not the biggest name in the NFL (mainly because he’s a punter) but he does have a fumble recovery to his name. On top of that, Sanchez has proven to be one of the better punters in the league. On kickoffs, Sanchez had one of the lowest touchback percentages in the league and had an average punt of 44.4 yards. In 2019 the Indianapolis Colts rewarded Sanchez with a four-year contract extension worth $11.6 million, making the Mexican-American one of the highest paid punters in the NFL.

Matt Moore– Quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs (Practice Squad)

Photo by the Kansas City Chiefs on twitter.com

Moore was a very solid backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. This season Moore started out on the Chiefs practice squad. He’ll never beat out Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes for the starting quarterback job in Kansas City, but he has carved out a nice career for himself. Moore had retired to coach at his high school before getting a call from Andy Reid to be Patrick Mahomes’ backup after an injury to Chad Henne. Moore has seen stops with the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers signed Moore as an undrafted free agent in 2007 out of Oregon State. In Moore’s career he has a total of 49 passing touchdowns and 7,597 passing yards to go along with the Super Bowl ring he won last season with the Chiefs. Moore is part Mexican.

Andrew Sendejo– Safety for the Cleveland Browns

Sendejo is another player of Mexican descent. In a league where the average career lasts three years this veteran player has been able to stick around for 10 seasons. Last season Sendejo was a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but he is currently with the Cleveland Browns. The undrafted safety out of Rice University tallied 45 tackles and three interceptions last season where he played for both the Eagles and the Vikings. In his career Sendejo has a total of nine interceptions, 416 total tackles, and two sacks.

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Fred Warner– Linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers

Probably the best Latinx player currently in the NFL, Warner is a key player on the talented San Francisco 49ers defense. Warner’s father, Fred Warner Sr. is Panamanian. Warner played linebacker at BYU and was drafted in the third-round by San Francisco. In his two seasons in the NFL Warner has had over 100 combined tackles in each season. Last season Warner led his team in tackles, scored a defensive touchdown, and earned the honor of NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. Warner’s performances helped the 49ersmarch right to the Super Bowl, where they were eventually beaten by the Kansas City Chiefs. His athleticism and coverage ability make him the ideal linebacker in today’s pass heavy NFL. Any Panamanian can take great pride in watching one of their own light up the NFL.

There are more Latinx players in the NFL that are not listed here, but these specific players made a lasting impact for their respective teams. It’s not a big percentage of players, but hopefully these players inspire a wave of future athletes with Hispanic and Latinx roots to flood the NFL with talent. Hopefully those future athletes become NFL superstars that the fast growing Latinx fanbase can take pride in.